PSHE has to evolve to reflect contemporary issues. We find out how schools are adapting


Mayfield School tell us about how their Lifeskills programme helps students ‘meet the needs of the age’

At Mayfield our aim is to develop strong, outward looking, informed and compassionate young women. 

Our founder wanted Mayfield girls ‘to meet the needs of the age’ and the Lifeskills programme is designed to support them to take responsibility for their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, to plan for their further education, career and financial independence, to develop practical skills and understand their responsibility as global citizens; but it also aims to ensure those achievements stem from each student’s sense of her intrinsic worth and are informed by a compassionate empathy for others.

Starting in Lower School, girls cover topics as diverse as dress codes, managing finances and coping with the pressures of media influencers. As they move through the school they will explore the workings of the political system, advertising and fake news, risk management, and personal safety as well as a full programme of relationships education. The Sixth Form programme looks to prepare Mayfield students for life beyond school. Practical topics are covered such as cooking on a budget, self-defence, rental contracts, understanding mortgages and insurance as well as preparing girls for the challenges of professional and personal relationships in a digital age.

To allow meaningful exploration of complex issues Mayfield has introduced Lifeskills Days. This creates a space for engagement with the most contemporary elements of the preventative curriculum, often in workshops with leading professionals: a day might cover #metoo, women in the workplace, fertility, alcohol, spiking and county lines.

Elizabeth Aherne, Programme Director, commented “The Lifeskills programme at Mayfield aims to educate in the widest sense: giving girls the self-confidence to make informed, high-quality decisions for and about themselves both now and in the future.”


We hear from Claremont about how students learn to make good choices and navigate life’s pressures

Since the days of distance learning, there has been a greater focus on the importance of having balance in our lives and to support our children’s Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE).

Our ‘curriculum for life’ is both academic and pastoral, supporting the whole development of the child. The Pastoral and PSHE curriculum is taught from pre prep right up to sixth form, with flexibility planned in to allow for the changing needs of our students throughout the year. 

Our children will have many challenges throughout their lives so we teach and empower them to use healthy coping mechanisms to confidently meet them head on; making good decisions, exploring and living by our values, recognising and fostering healthy relationships, 

Taking informed risks and experiencing the many rewards of nurturing a positive attitude are not only introduced through the PSHE curriculum, but weaved into the very fabric of everyday school life at Claremont. This is achieved through a shared pastoral language whilst regular forums to facilitate student feedback help us identify where further support and discussion is needed. 

Whilst we are determined to maintain our high academic expectations, we recognise that some students become anxious during exam season, so this year we have added a range of wellbeing activities to the timetable including restorative yoga.  The student-run Eco Store and many initiatives organised for Fundraising Week teach financial management skills whilst promoting a positive entrepreneurial spirit. Our core school value of Respect is noted by visitors who witness and comment on the tangible positive atmosphere. 


Mike Lamb, Director of Pupil & Staff Wellbeing at Hurstpierpoint College discusses PSHE

We have developed our PSHE programme over the years. As well as ensuring it stays up to date with the latest developments – most recently and notably equality and relationships – we ensure it is expertly delivered by the school’s pastoral leaders who are trained and experienced in the issues being discussed. Specific teachers deliver their own speciality to ensure expertise across the programme. 

What makes PSHE at Hurst unique is how we intertwine it with our wellbeing programme. On alternate weeks Year 9 students take part in our Wellbeing Carousel which complements PSHE. This allows students to get involved in novel activities outside the curriculum to help them build confidence and skills which they may choose to develop further. All students participate in each activity and feedback each year as we develop the programme. 

One of the most popular aspects is our Forest and Farm activity when students learn how to make fires and build shelters whilst working in groups, before carrying out helpful tasks on the Hurst Farm. Students also enjoy yoga sessions, run by a specialist yoga teacher and spend time in the school gym with our strength and conditioning coach. Next year, all students will also take part in a mindfulness course,  run by specially trained staff. 

Our combination of explicit PSHE lessons interwoven with the wellbeing programme helps support our pupils through Hurst and beyond.

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