Review of Personal and Social Education: third sector engagement session

Summary of the 9 August 2018 engagement session with the third sector on the Review of Personal and Social Education (PSE).

Attendees and apologies

In attendance:

  • Barnados
  • Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in Scotland
  • University  of Glasgow
  • Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Place2Be
  • The Spark
  • SAMH
  • Rape Crisis Scotland
  • Children in Scotland
  • Young Scot
  • NHS
  • See Me
  • CYP Commissioner
  • LGBT Youth Scotland
  • NPFS
  • Children Services Falkirk (multi-agency)
  • respectme
  • Girl Guiding Scotland
  • Police Scotland
  • YouthLink Scotland
  • TIE Campaign
  • Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland
  • Skills Development Scotland 
  • RCPsych Paediatric Liaison network
  • Joanna Tindall



Items and actions

1.  Purpose

The purpose of the Workshop was to share the draft high level messages from the PSE Thematic Inspection undertaken by Education Scotland and to provide additional information on the delivery of Phase 3 – wider engagement and development of recommendations.

The aim of the Workshop was to facilitate comment on the draft high level messages and  enable key stakeholders to inform the drafting of recommendations.

2.  PSE Thematic Inspection

Education Scotland visited 55 schools and early learning and child care centres over a wide geographical/size/deprivation spread to review how PSE is delivered, the role of pastoral guidance and services for counselling for children and young people.
A draft report of the Thematic Inspection has been produced, which is currently going through quality assurance within Education Scotland and will be published at the end of August.

An engagement session with COSLA, ADES and local authorities has already taken place and engagement sessions with teaching unions and children and young people will take place in the coming months.
The final report of the PSE Review with recommendations will be published in December 2018.

3. Group discussion of draft high level messages

Session 1 – The content of PSE programmes for children and young people from 3 to 18 years in Scottish schools and early learning centres / How these programmes are delivered and the quality of learning, achievement and progression

Workshop comments

  • Not surprised at the findings
  • Recognition of the pressure on teachers with the scope of PSE. Partners role: engagement with third sector organisations should be planned early as part of whole school approach – not reactive
  • How are staff accessing training to understand 21st century issues?
  • Teachers are often allocated PSE lessons so are not confident taking the class
  • PSE lessons sometimes delivered by third sector partners
  • Disconnect between seriousness of PSE at National level to classroom level
  • National update of the Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood (RSHP) guidance welcomed
  • How do we create relationships/spaces for young people and adults to have honest and open conversations?
  • What can we do to help teachers? Resources and having PSE as specialism and needs to be the right teachers delivering PSE
  • Good leadership around the PSE programme is important – can sometimes be seen as an add on
  • Very important to involve children and young people (CYP) in the design and planning of PSE lessons. The best PSE programmes are the ones that have involved young people in the planning process
  • Need teachers who can provide high quality delivery of PSE
  • Teacher training required to build confidence in delivering/addressing sensitive issues
  • Stress relating to exams – higher risk of someone experiencing stress with mental health issues
  • Need drivers/targets on schools (not pupils) to give Health and Wellbeing equal esteem to Literacy and Numeracy
  • Clarity on the purpose of PSE required
  • Give teachers a level of detail on what could be taught within PSE – PSE Benchmarks for instance?
  • Could offer individual framework but need to ensure balance between pastoral care and individual support
  • Longevity of approaches to programmes for learning
  • Need to ensure consistency of opportunities for learning, making sure we deal with the thing that young people need/want to know about
  • Needs to be freedom of delivery but this needs to be consistent
  • Needs to be clarity around resources available to teachers to deliver PSE and these need to be from credible sources
  • Needs to be a balance between life skills and examinable subjects

Session 2 – The effectiveness  of the provision of the universal support entitlement and staged intervention for social, emotional and behavioural support / The effectiveness of pastoral guidance in supporting children and young people

Workshop comments

  • Relationships with partners/schools planning for early intervention - child must be at the centre and approaches need to be joined up
  • Identify early any issues to inform prevention and intervention
  • Could a PSE survey be introduced to inform outcomes, design and delivery?
  • Schools can’t be seen as the only solution to support pupils – role of third sector to assist schools and equip teachers with resource to help pupils
  • Case loads – what can be done to support early interventions – not just at the ‘crisis point’
  • Important to recognise other achievements, not just qualifications
  • Too many young people on guidance teachers caseload
  • Ad hoc approach required in schools – limitation to the role of guidance staff therefore more staff need trained in mental health
  • All teachers should feel comfortable dealing with mild issues CYP are having
  • Confidentiality for CYP going to their guidance teacher is important
  • Still a lack of understanding around mental health/behaviour from teachers
  • Provide options for young people to speak about their issues – if they find it easier to express themselves online then perhaps an email/social media platform would work well
  • Schools clearly value partnerships so more funding is required for third sector organisations
  • Funding for third sector partners is important as schools report how much they value third sector organisations
  • CLPL/support required to build capacity for teachers to deal with issues or questions that partnership engagement can bring up
  • Need to identify the needs of CYP earlier. Possibly through PSE/HWB survey, teachers helping pupils and the status of PSE
  • Commitment of staff recognised in this area
  • Spread practice on effective interventions and ensure consistency in quality and practice
  • Discuss career options at an earlier level
  • Guidance on role of guidance staff
  • Could someone other than a teacher do the pastoral/support role?
  • Teachers learning done well – find out why and build on this
  • Developing the use of data to identify where additional support is needed and to evaluate the success of interventions – spread this practice, make sure it’s understood
  • Long term measurement of interventions more meaningful than short term
  • Importance of transitions and language around messaging between primary/secondary
  • Often third sector organisations are brought in a crisis point, needs to be a more consistent part of the curriculum involving engagement with parents
  • Needs to be support for parents with learning difficulties
  • Teachers need to really look at what is going on in the child’s life - children often getting the ‘label’ but not the correct support
  • Needs to be a balance of targeted support
  • Early identification is critical and can develop into more harmful behaviour if left till later
  • Trauma  - teachers need the support to support the YP
  • Tendency for schools to ‘pick out’ specific children to work with specific children rather than third sector organisations providing the support to teachers
  • PSE has a role within the wider spectrum of support services
  • Appropriate funding of PSE support is crucial
  • Pupil relationship with teacher – ability to speak to someone else – access to trusted colleagues


Session 3 – Positive mental health and extent specific counselling services/ How the issue of sexual consent is taught within relationships, sexual health and parenthood

Workshop comments

  • What will counselling look like going forward?
  • Professional development and support required to make sure teachers know how to intervene
  • Important for teachers to know the law around consent – knowing when to involve police and when not to
  • Lack of capacity in the system when it comes to counselling. Funding can be an issue along with what counselling actually means in schools?
  • Mental health services need to be joined up across education to ensure CYP are receiving the support they need – links back to Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC)
  • Consistency and investment in mental health training  for all staff – needs to be sustainable and not just a ‘one-off’, potential to tie in with professional learning
  • Priority of Health and Wellbeing in the curriculum delivery in schools – good health and wellbeing is the foundation to support attainment in other curricular subjects
  • Multi-disciplinary hub of support services  required – not just in school
  • Clarity required around what is meant by counselling
  • Would be good to have a space for professionals to come together and discuss CYP’s mental health before it’s a crisis situation
  • Counselling is not the only way to address issues. Risk of missing other ways to address mental health if we focus too much on counselling
  • Big link between mental health and equalities although often seen as separate. Promoting equalities impacts positively on mental health
  • Lack of consistency and understanding around the meaning of consent
  • Scenarios are a great way of teaching about consent
  • There is a fear of parents’ reactions to teaching about RSHP 
  • Services could be made available throughout school holidays
  • Need to involve parents more – improving role of parents as partners
  • Provision of counselling in schools is patchy
  • Suggestion of a national approach to counselling to provide quality assurance and consistency
  • Spectrum of mental health services is important, not to rely solely on counselling as the answer – creation of a cluster of services to ensure wrap around care – out of school hours, holiday periods, remote/rural locations
  • Important to teach consent from as early an age as possible and continue through to S6
  • Money and resources required to help schools deliver this more effectively
  • Ask schools what they need
  • Ask young people what they want
  • Stress is not always a negative, can have positive stress
  • Important to recognise the impact bereavement can have on CYP
  • Different professionals using different language – needs to be a consistency
  • Stress doesn’t counselling, more support required around self-regulation/naming emotions – this often has to come before any counselling/specialist support can take place

Session 4 – How learner engagement and co-design of PSE programmes is taken forward in schools / The extent to which equalities issues taught in PSE, teach children and young people about prejudice and promote an understanding of different groups of people

Workshop comments

  • Discussions around individual rights can help to address domestic violence issues
  • Co-design but also co-delivery requires a broad framework of guidance on what needs to be covered along with freedom of settings
  • Co-design needs to be meaningful and how can we measure the effectiveness of co-design/co-production
  • How do we evaluate good work?
  • Important to involve CYP in the design, delivery and evaluation of impact of PSE lessons
  • Need to focus on wider equalities beyond LGBT
  • Parental engagement important
  • Learn more about individual equality cohorts and hierarchy, don’t put all cohorts under the one ‘equality bracket’
  • We have better intelligence on the experiences of young people following the Equality and Human Rights Committee inquiry into school bullying
  • Robust research on prejudice required to collect further intelligence on CYPs personal experiences. HWB census may be a way to do this
  • Do we need more prescription around PSE lessons?
  • More consistency required over what is covered and delivered in PSE lessons
  • Could the refreshed RSHP guidance include thematic outcomes?
  • Mental health first aid training should be mandatory for teachers
  • Teachers to release control to the pupils
  • Support teachers constructively to deal with equality
  • Use of alternative settings, not just classroom
  • Investment of time is essential
  • Adaptive programme of PSE for the term or school year – engage with pupils at the start
  • Create a framework of what PSE could cover (link to creation of PSE Benchmarks)
  • Rebrand of PSE – make it clearer what the CYP are going to learn
  • How do we ensure senior leadership team are leading the way on equalities and PSE?
  • PSE can be used as a tool to tackle prejudice in early years/primary settings
  • Use of in service days for equalities? Would need to link to the priority and place
  • Role of third sector is to help to equip teachers to support pupils -  funding is very important

Key recommendation from each table

1. There should be a re-brand of PSE to involve mandatory topics (non-exhaustive) to be covered in Scotland with an emphasis on early intervention, prevention and empowerment, founded on co-production and appropriately funded partnership working.

2. To consider/fund an infrastructure to support high quality PSE to encompass leadership, teacher capacity, practice support and content, in partnership with children and young people and the third sector.

3. More resources/funding for staff training in mental health and counselling. Map existing resources and services, identify gaps and needs across the country. Develop a robust quality assurance system. All of this needs to be sustainable in the longer term.
4. Introduce an overarching Framework and key principles outlining the minimum level of provision which includes all pupils in co-production and co-delivery ensuring teachers receiving appropriate training. It is crucial that parents and carers are engaged in this process. This should be appropriately evaluated.
5. Consider professionalising the guidance/pastoral care role as a catalyst for actions on support for learning and teaching



Post: Scottish Government
Learning Directorate
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Telephone: 0300 244 4000

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