20th April 2021

Building and Embedding Personal Development

‘Thrive, don’t just survive’ has been our unofficial school motto during the tumultuous year, which seems to sum up the optimism among colleagues and students in response to lockdowns and our upside-down world. This optimism and open culture to change and development has been the perfect place in which to launch, build and embed our new Personal Development focus and curriculum across school. What better motivation than a world-wide pandemic to help us re-focus and see the real need for character development and emotional resilience in our students!

During our first half-term back in school, PD lessons were delivered by our full staff team (September-October 2020), as part of our whole-school ‘recovery’ curriculum. Many staff and students commented on how they enjoyed having the time and space in these sessions to re-connect, reflect and look ahead with hope at the beginning of the new school year.

Cue the launch of Personal Development as a newly invigorated timetabled lesson for all students across K3 and 4, with a perfect but also challenging context for its initial growth. Students have really embraced the opportunity to thrive through dedicated time to talk, reflect and ponder their life choices; in the words of a Y8 student: “PD gives us a chance to express our thoughts and feelings and not feel judged”. Our exceptionally broad and diverse curriculum (everything from wellbeing & relationships education to organ donation law and anti-racism!) has been well-received by students and many have commented on how they value the safe space and time that PD lessons provide for discussing "real life scenarios” that they may face (Y7 student).

The most recent lockdown was a real challenge for our discussion-based lessons; however, students have enjoyed contributing interactively through the online platform Nearpod, thanks to the genius of our colleague Nat Ledger. We have also promoted regular ‘screen break’ activities in lessons, which students have engaged with enthusiastically!

We have enjoyed building and embedding the impact of PD as we have move back to in person lessons, both in PD lessons and across the whole school. As we have reconnected with our students and adapted to their ever-changing needs throughout the pandemic, it seems there is no better time to make PD an even greater strength in our school community. Long may PD ‘thrive and not just survive’!