3. PSE Review Conclusions
Throughout the Review, in the review of existing materials, the Thematic Inspection, the engagement sessions, online questionnaire and written submissions; similar themes were identified and raised. In addition, those attending the Phase 3 engagement sessions were not surprised by the findings from the Thematic Inspection and recognised the areas of strength, as well as the areas for improvement.
The priority and place of HWB/PSE in the curriculum continued to be raised by everyone who engaged in the Review. It was often cited that HWB, and subsequently PSE, was often viewed as the lesser element of the curriculum compared to literacy and numeracy. The role of HWB/PSE as part of a Whole School Approach to behaviour, relationships, support and health is crucial as it can provide young people with the skills to be resilient, to identify and recognise inappropriate behaviour.
Consistency in delivering HWB/PSE was viewed as a crucial factor in helping to raise HWB/PSE in the minds of senior school staff, so that they and staff delivering HWB/PSE have a clear articulation of why HWB/PSE is important, but also that up to date, best practice resources are available to enable them to deliver HWB/PSE that meets the needs of young people.
The Review found that often pupils were removed from HWB/PSE classes to take part in other curricular activities. In order to be effective, HWB/PSE must be part of a supportive ethos in a school with the backing of senior leadership. It is crucial that teachers delivering HWB/PSE have the necessary skills, resources and available professional learning to ensure consistent delivery.
At all engagement sessions, there was strong agreement on the importance of school counselling in delivering effective support to young people, however, this is within a wide spectrum of mental HWB support. School counselling should not be seen as the only effective delivery mechanism to support young people; existing approaches already being delivered by schools, such as nurture, should be complemented by a school counselling service.
There was strong agreement that specialist teachers were required to deliver a high level of HWB/PSE while recognising the important role of third sector organisations and senior pupils in delivery of HWB/PSE. Teachers valued the work of third sector organisations, both in the delivery of specialist HWB/PSE subjects but also in providing the wider support required for children and young people. It is important that these sessions are delivered in partnership, working closely to support the HWB/PSE teacher, but also with the wider school community.
The importance of providing teachers with effective and up to date resources was raised in many of the engagement sessions, but this needs to be supported with effective opportunities for Career Long Professional Learning. This will enable teachers and all staff in schools to access the most up to date skills and understanding to help support young people. It was also raised that the provision of this learning needs to be made available through a variety of methods, to enable teachers from across the country to access and take advantage of it.
Delivery of HWB/PSE in the Senior Phase was often cited as needing vastly improved. The Young Scot survey highlighted the varying differences in young people's views of HWB/PSE delivery between S1/S2 and S5/S6. With pupils in S5/S6 responding that HWB/PSE was not meeting their needs and was not preparing them with the necessary skills and pathways options for life after school. Often HWB/PSE classes were focused on substance misuse throughout the year and were outdated and not focusing on the issues that young people were concerned about.
The importance of involving children and young people in the design and delivery of HWB/PSE lessons is crucial. This needs to be meaningful and allows teachers and school staff to really understand the 21st century issues that affect children's and young people's lives as they emerge. Senior pupils can have an important role in this delivery and the younger pupils value some learning from senior pupils who can relate more to some of the issues that are identified by young people.
A key factor in improving the delivery of HWB/PSE is to remove a lot of the unnecessary bureaucracy from teachers to enable them to prepare and deliver HWB/PSE lessons that meet the needs of young people. This would also assist to reduce some of the high caseloads that pastoral and guidance teachers are dealing with, enabling them to focus on providing the required support for young people.
The importance of teaching age and stage appropriate Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education (RSHP) and consent was raised in all of the engagement sessions. Resources available in schools need to be updated to reflect the issues that young people are facing today. RSHP Education can be an instrumental tool to tackle issues early on before they escalate into more severe wellbeing issues.
Monitoring of HWB / PSE delivery was suggested as an additional tool that could be used to assist practitioners in identifying and delivering the relevant learning needs of children and young people in their classroom.
There were also a lot of representations that highlighted the excellent practice that is already underway within our schools, that is providing a strong support for young people's mental HWB. There needs to be a way for schools to share this best practice to inform others who are starting on a path to improve the school ethos, to develop a Whole School Approach to building positive relationships and behaviour.
The engagement has helped to form a number of recommendations to take forward and improve HWB/PSE delivery across all schools and early learning and childcare settings. The recommendations will rely on all partners within the education system to work together to improve outcomes for all learners.
HWB/PSE can have a crucial role in supporting higher levels of literacy and numeracy, in making school environments respectful, in preparing young people for the challenges and opportunities that they will experience and in delivering a positive outcome for society.
Email: Rachel Macpherson