HMI: Curriculum Matters

Background notes

1 English
2 The Curriculum
3 Mathematics
4 Music
5 Home economics
6 Health education
7 Geography
8 Modern foreign languages
9 Craft, design and technology
10 Careers education and guidance
11 History
12 Classics
13 Environmental education
14 Personal and social education
15 Information Technology
16 Physical education
17 Drama

Personal and social education from 5 to 16

The complete document is presented in this single web page. You can scroll through it or use the following links to go straight to the various sections:

Preface (page iv)
Fostering personal and social development and responsibility (1)
Approaches to personal and social education (3)
Objectives (12)
Planning and management (17)
Evaluation and assessment (19)
Appendix: Sensitive and controversial issues: the legal framework (21)
Further reading (23)

The text of Personal and social education from 5 to 16 was prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 13 June 2011.

Personal and social education from 5 to 16
HMI Series: Curriculum Matters No. 14

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1989
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

[title page]

Department of Education and Science

Personal and
social education
from 5 to 16

Curriculum Matters 14


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Crown copyright 1989
First published 1989
ISBN 0 11 270679 7

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Fostering personal and social development and responsibility

Approaches to personal and social education
Teaching approaches3
Learning approaches4
The contribution of subjects, cross-curricular themes and topics6
The place of personal and social education (PSE) courses9
The school as a community11


Planning and management

Evaluation and assessment

Appendix Sensitive and controversial issues: the legal framework

Further reading

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Since 1984 HM Inspectorate has published a number of Curriculum Matters papers designed to stimulate discussion about the curriculum as a whole and its component parts.

Personal and social education from 5 to 16, the fourteenth in the series, sets out a framework to help schools formulate policies and practices in personal and social education appropriate to their own pupils. The paper is addressed not only to heads and teachers but also to local education authorities, school governors, parents, employers and the wider community outside the school. It discusses ways of fostering personal and social development through planned approaches to personal and social education; it establishes objectives; and it considers planning and management, the assessment of pupils and the evaluation of provision.

Like other earlier publications in the Curriculum Matters series, this discussion paper is intended to stimulate a professional debate and to contribute to reaching national agreement about the objectives and content of the school curriculum. That debate is now taking place as part of the arrangements set out in the Education Reform Act for developing the national curriculum. As far as personal and social education is concerned particular account will need to be taken of Section 1 of the Act which requires maintained schools to provide 'a balanced and broadly based curriculum that

a. promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society; and
b. prepares such pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life'.
The National Curriculum Council will have the task of advising on appropriate attainment targets for the core and other foundation subjects at the ages of 7, 11, 14 and 16 and upon associated programmes of study. It will do so on the basis of proposals from the Secretary of State, building as necessary on the work of individual subject working groups and after statutory consultation with the education service and others. The Council has also been asked by the Secretary of

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State to consider and advise him by 31 March 1989 on 'those cross-curricular issues which should be included in the curriculum of maintained schools, including the place and context of personal and social education and health education, and the extent to which those issues can be included in attainment targets and programmes of study for the core and other foundation subjects'. The School Examinations and Assessment Council will advise on methods of assessing performance related to the attainment targets within a national system based upon the principles set out by the Task Group on Assessment and Testing, as endorsed by the Secretary of State.

This document should be read as a whole, since all sections are interrelated.

Given the existence of the National Curriculum Council and the curriculum debate that it is engendering, we are not asking formally for responses to this discussion document. However, if you have any comments please send them to the Staff Inspector for Personal and Social Education, Department of Education and Science, York Road, London SE1 7PH.

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Fostering personal and social development and responsibility

1. Children's early experience of personal and social life occurs in the home. Here initial attitudes and behaviour are formed. As they grow older children have to learn to make relationships with boys and girls, and adults, outside the family; to cope with various transitions, such as those from home to school, and from school to school; and to deal with the complex and ever-changing world of schools themselves.

2. If children's personal and social development is to progress satisfactorily it needs to be well supported. Parents have the major part to play, but the role of all teachers is vital because personal and social development and responsibility are intrinsic to the nature of education. It is something from which no teacher can opt out. Any help which is offered will be more effective if parents and teachers work together.

3. Schools in England and Wales have always aimed to educate pupils as individuals capable of understanding themselves and of playing a responsible part as members of families, and of local, national and international communities. This general purpose encompasses the major concerns of personal and social education and is usually reflected in sets of overall educational aims as, for example, that given in Better Schools (HMSO, 1985, para 44). It is now provided with statutory underpinning by Section 1 of the 1988 Education Reform Act.

4. In this paper personal and social education refers to those aspects of a school's thinking, planning, teaching and organisation explicitly designed to promote the personal and social development of pupils. It does not follow that arrangements should necessarily include timetabled courses specifically concerned with personal and social education. Personal and social education is concerned with qualities and attitudes, knowledge and understanding, and abilities and skills in relation to oneself and others, social responsibilities and morality. It helps pupils be considerate and enterprising in the present, while it prepares them for an informed and active involvement in family, social, economic and civic life. It plays an important part in bringing relevance, breadth and balance to the curriculum.

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5. In schools subject teaching, however organised and delivered, has usually held a central place in educational activities and the national curriculum has strongly reinforced its importance. Cross-curricular themes, including personal and social education, are by their nature rooted in subjects, and where courses are offered they need to be planned and developed in relation to subject teaching. Subjects, together with cross-curricular themes and topics, can contribute to personal and social development by promoting a sense of achievement, confidence and competence, and by focusing as appropriate on particular relevant issues. In such a context the experience of pupils needs to be accepted and recognised as significant. For teaching this entails a concern with the process as well as with the content of learning. Personal and social development is also inevitably influenced by the relationships and styles of learning which are promoted in the classroom, or elsewhere; and by experience of the school as a community. At a general level a school's ethos and informal approaches also make an important contribution.

6. Pupils have varied educational needs, whether for example as girls or boys, or as members of ethnic minorities. There are also children whose sense of achievement and personal worth may be affected by learning difficulties, or by personal, family or social circumstances. The whole range of schools' activities should be so organised as to promote equal opportunities for all young people. This involves, in general terms, developing policies and practices that are consistent with the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (see part 3) and the Race Relations Act 1976 (see part 3). More specifically, neither curricular and timetabling arrangements nor formal and informal rules or ethos should directly or otherwise inhibit the full personal development of individuals, and in particular of those such as girls or members of ethnic minorities who have not always enjoyed the full benefits of educational provision.

7. The fostering of personal and social development is a means as well as an end of education. For effective learning to occur schools have to develop a moral framework acceptable to parents, teachers and pupils within which initiative, responsibility and sound relationships can flourish. Equally, the promotion of knowledge, understanding and related competencies should contribute to the development in pupils of relevant personal, social and moral characteristics. Where

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such matters are neglected schools are hindered in achieving necessary overall educational objectives.

8. Parents, teachers, pupils themselves and others concerned with education hold values which, to a greater or lesser extent, differ. This has implications for the way a school conceives and promotes personal and social development. There are inevitably many possibilities for discord among all concerned. However, recognition and acceptance that the values of those involved in the personal and social development of pupils differ also offer genuine opportunities that can lead to a search for common ground; to an emphasis on consultation; and to respect for the views and rights of individuals. Above all, such acceptance can encourage schools to recognise that a democratic society thrives only where there is active debate about, and concern for, values, and that education is crucial in ensuring that this can occur in a constructive spirit and manner.

9. Schools are legally required to make information about syllabuses and other educational provision available to parents, and governing bodies have to prepare annual reports to parents and to hold annual parents' meetings (Education (No 2) Act 1986, sections 20, 30 and 31). It is particularly important in personal and social education that schools both consult with parents and governors and keep them fully informed of intentions, practices and outcomes. Mutual trust and a sense of shared purpose are much more likely to develop where there is a climate of openness, and where effective attention is paid by schools to the skills and procedures of communication.

Approaches to personal and social education

Teaching approaches

10. All teaching needs to take account of the way in which young people develop personally and socially. Individuals tend to progress, with variations, through certain recognisable stages. Children become increasingly capable of moving from self-centredness towards the acceptance of other viewpoints; from having a minimal sense of social obligation

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towards an understanding of the purpose of, and need for, rules and laws; from impulsive, through conforming, towards conscientious and autonomous behaviour. By the time they leave school pupils should be developing their own understanding and commitments in relation to the responsibilities which they face in their personal lives and to the wider personal, social and moral issues which they are encountering as young adults and citizens.

As infants, when children first come to school, there are wide differences in their backgrounds and in their ability to cope with challenges. Pupils have to be encouraged to come to terms with their own emotions, to behave with consideration for others' needs, and to learn simple but crucial skills to do with leading a safe and healthy life.

In the early years of the primary school the personal and social development of pupils is usually promoted effectively by a close relationship with one adult, the class teacher. This enables the teacher to know children well, while making it easier for them to explore new relationships and experiences.

As boys and girls grow older the importance to them of group activity increases. Also, many when approaching or reaching adolescence become increasingly aware of the need to reflect upon, and make sense of, an ever more complex personal and social world.

Accordingly as pupils progress through primary and secondary education, while continuing to require an environment that offers security and stability, they also need a widening range of personal and social learning experiences, and a growing knowledge and understanding of social issues.

11. Good teaching, crucial in encouraging effective personal and social development, creates circumstances in which pupils can learn effectively. There should be high expectations of young people, who should be challenged and stimulated. Teachers can contribute to the personal and social development of pupils by clarifying their thinking; helping them to formulate strategies for dealing with identified tasks; listening with discrimination and politeness to what they have to say; and making clear to them that they are accepted as worthwhile individuals. A teacher who has sound professional

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knowledge, who is concerned to explore his or her own self-understanding, and who offers a good example of behaviour is likely to have a valuable effect on the development of pupils' expectations, self-esteem, attitudes and behaviour.

12. Teachers of children of all ages can use everyday occurrences to raise social or moral issues. A teacher may initiate discussion with the child, or children, concerned in a particular event and subsequently perhaps develop themes which arise with a larger group or the whole class; this can lead to exploration of both the immediate and the wider questions involved. Successful use of this technique requires that teachers carefully identify matters which are worth following up, decide upon appropriate ways of doing this, and handle ensuing activities effectively.

13. Where primary schools rely on use of incidental happenings to promote personal and social development they need to develop resulting work according to a consistent policy, and to consider in regular staff discussions how successful their strategies are and how these may need to be extended or modified. An insufficiently considered use of everyday experiences can result in a haphazard approach where in practice moral and social issues are considered only occasionally, and in relation mainly to crises or misdemeanours.

Learning approaches

14. Education of quality, by its very nature, promotes good personal and social development. In particular, worthwhile learning approaches have features in common for pupils of all ages.

  • Pupils are encouraged to take responsibility for their learning. In the context of a broad curriculum pupils develop self-confidence and judgement; and from the earliest age are encouraged to exercise informed choice within, and between, activities.
  • Opportunities are created for pupils, whatever their particular strengths and abilities, to achieve. Teachers ensure that genuine achievement is recognised and rewarded.

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  • Pupils understand that everyone's contributions, including their own, deserve attention. Pupils are able to talk about, present and display their work in a supportive context, and are able to accept relevant suggestions and criticisms.
  • Pupils have the opportunity to work in groups which differ in size and purpose, as well as on their own. They experience leadership as well as membership of such groups; offer and respond to ideas; argue a case and defend sensibly a decision or course of action; present personal and group views; and share responsibility for the outcomes of group activity. Work in groups is a way of acquiring and developing particular elements of knowledge and understanding; and of exploring personal and social skills. Teachers lead and support work with a range of styles - intervening, supporting, directing, remaining detached.
  • Pupils are able to explore personal and social experience through role play. Roles explored can include those of persons behaving in ways perceived to be good or bad; practising different ways of life; holding contrasting positions in society; revealing a range of feelings and beliefs. Pupils reflect on the actions of those whose roles they and others are playing. Questions about motives, results of actions, effects of circumstances, place, time and attitudes all contribute to making role play worthwhile. Sensitive intervention by teachers helps to carry role play forward, and to challenge and support participants' ideas and attitudes.
  • Pupils have the opportunity to use their imagination, and to develop personal ideas and insights. They are encouraged to express these effectively through appropriate disciplines and media.
The contribution of subjects, cross-curricular themes and topics

15. Primary and secondary schools usually organise the curriculum in rather different ways, the former placing more emphasis on topic, project and integrated work, and the latter on subjects. Nevertheless the teaching of subjects can have a

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significant place in primary schools, as can other approaches in secondary schools. Whatever particular timetabling and teaching arrangements are adopted a major task of schools is to include in the work of all young people a comprehensive and progressive sequence of experiences that will foster their personal and social development.

16. All subjects, cross-curricular themes and topics should promote various personal qualities such as independence of mind, respect for truth, persistence, flexibility and imaginativeness. Similarly they should encourage personal and social skills such as the ability to organise one's own work and activities, to make informed and relevant choices, and to work both independently and cooperatively. Teaching should help pupils to see the relevance of what they are doing both to their own personal interests and to life outside and beyond school.

17. Various cross-curricular themes including health education, environmental education, economic awareness, political education, and careers education and guidance can play a particularly significant part in contributing to pupils' personal and social development. Topic or project work in such areas can focus on issues closely related to personal and social education. Examples include the nature of work, past and present communities, and caring for others, ourselves and our environment.

18. In the best subject teaching there is a subtle relationship between what is being taught and the way it is taught; this derives from the personal commitment brought to all aspects of their work by teachers of ability and integrity. In addition, such teachers are concerned to ensure that what pupils learn is not trapped within the confines of a particular subject but leads to the exploration of broader understanding, as relevant, of the self, other areas of learning and the outside world. Consequently, in itself the teaching of subjects should foster personal and social development.

19. Elements of individual subjects have an important role to play. English and drama explore questions of personal identity. Similarly, religious education considers aspects of what it means to be a person; it also helps pupils investigate how personal development may occur both through individual

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religious experience and through membership of a faith community. Personal responsibility is a major concern in science where pupils have to learn how to act sensibly in potentially hazardous environments. In physical education pupils need to ensure that they are appropriately prepared to undertake certain activities, and be ready and able to look after the safety of themselves and others. Ways of caring for oneself and others in the home, whether as a single person, parent, or other family member, are a major focus of teaching in home economics and in education for parenthood.

20. The understanding of others, of relationships and of society is a recurrent theme in many subjects. Through drama, poetry and literature, in English, Welsh and in other languages, pupils are enabled to explore personal, social and moral aspects of the experience of others. History encourages insight into unfamiliar points of view and motivation, as well as looking at how relationships between individuals and groups develop over time. Knowledge of and the chance to appreciate other ways of life can arise through the study of modern languages, visits abroad, and exchanges with pupils from other countries; through experience of the music and art of other cultures; and through insights into the family and religious traditions of different communities. The nature of social behaviour and institutions, and how they mutually relate, is a significant aspect of many courses. In the creative arts an important issue is how artistic activity and the social environment influence each other.

21. Every subject has a moral dimension. For example, for science there is a need to consider personal, social and moral responsibility in the design and consequences of scientific experiment, particularly in relation to the use of natural materials, and to animate or inanimate life forms. There are also ethical questions arising from scientific aspects of abortion, power generation, maintenance of ecosystems and other controversial issues which are intrinsic to the nature of scientific enquiry. Craft, design and technology (CDT) raises the question of ways in which the design and provision of artefacts emerge from, and are influenced by, particular attitudes and values held by the designer or society. On the basis of an informed practical and theoretical grasp of the nature of technology, CDT should also enable pupils to

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participate in debate about the moral and social implications of its use. In addition, particular design tasks can help pupils understand the needs of groups such as the elderly or third world communities. Geography and science provide insights into the varying values which affect the way people influence, and are influenced by, the environment, and enable informed judgements to be reached about related controversial issues. History, religious education and social studies explore aspects of the relationships between behaviour and belief. They also help to promote insight into the nature of individual moral dilemmas, of the influence of historical context upon moral behaviour and of the moral aspects of relationships between large groups and nations. Equally, they investigate the nature of moral ideas and codes, and of how they may be justified. Finally, religious education considers the possible personal and social implications of commitment to particular beliefs, and the moral values by which people may conduct relationships and encounter experiences such as birth, marriage and bereavement.

The place of personal and social education (PSE) courses

22. It is not appropriate for primary schools to mount timetabled courses specifically concerned with personal and social education. This is partly because young children do not require, nor are most easily able to grasp, the differentiated range of knowledge and understanding which PSE courses offer. It is also because such matters can be dealt with more effectively in the context of class teaching and of the everyday life of the school.

23. Most secondary schools have PSE courses. In general these explore topics which are related to the objectives of personal and social education, but which are not fully dealt with elsewhere on the timetable. Such courses may be concerned with health, careers and political education, legal, economic and world issues, personal relationships and responsibilities, moral and religious education, community and social studies and study skills. Overall they provide an opportunity, not only to supplement cross-curricular themes, but also to coordinate and focus upon any elements of personal and social education which may otherwise be dealt with in a fragmented way, or not at all.

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24. Arrangements for these courses vary considerably. They may be offered in the early years of secondary school, and be taught by tutors. They are frequently provided for all pupils, whether taught in tutor or academic groups, from the third or fourth years onwards, and do not usually lead to public or other examination, although their content may be relevant to some General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) work. Courses may form part of, or be reinforced by, special programmes, such as the Technical and Vocational Education Initiative and the Lower Attaining Pupils Programme.

25. There are certain features of the planning and management of PSE courses which require particular attention. Some of these may also be relevant to subjects or aspects of studies explicitly concerned with personal and social education:

teachers and pupils need to be clear about the purpose of a course; what is to be taught and how; and ways in which what has been learned will be assessed.

courses should have adequate time tabling and staffing arrangements. Where this cannot happen, because of other priorities, schools should seriously consider if it is worthwhile continuing with such courses.

courses should benefit from teachers' subject expertise. PSE courses, however, often require teachers to take responsibility for topics outside their particular specialisms. Where this happens teachers should receive appropriate support which enables them to operate willingly and effectively, and to build upon any relevant personal interests which they may have. In-service education should be an integral part of provision.

courses should be flexible and responsive to the needs and interests of pupils, and take account of changing social and educational priorities. Staff need to meet regularly to evaluate, coordinate and modify teaching approaches and materials, to plan programmes of work, and to discuss achievements and difficulties.

teachers of PSE courses use published materials, and develop their own resources. These need to be efficiently

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collated, classified and made accessible to staff. This requires proper storage facilities and a teacher with a defined responsibility. Where outside speakers or visitors are used and when pupils make visits there should be both preparation and follow-up activities related to the course's objectives.
The school as a community

26. Personal and social development can be promoted through sound pastoral care. This ensures that each boy or girl can relate personally to an individual class teacher or tutor who is also responsible for overseeing his or her overall progress. Guidance should be given as necessary on personal, educational and, in secondary schools, vocational matters. Such help needs to be supported by a coherent record system, readily accessible to teachers and open to parents. Some individual pupils will also, from time to time or more continuously, have particular problems to cope with. Partly to help to deal with such cases, it is helpful if those teachers concerned with pastoral care have counselling skills, or are at least aware of the sort of support which may be available from trained counsellors. For numbers of pupils the effectiveness of pastoral care will be influenced by how well a school uses the expertise of outside agencies. However, a major aim of pastoral care should be to develop ways of encouraging the personal and social development of all pupils, not simply to react to the difficulties faced or caused by some.

27. For pupils of all ages personal experience can be extended and social skills and understanding developed through a range of extra-curricular activities, such as school visits, residential experience, outdoor education and work in the community. The exercise of responsibility and participation in democratic practice can be promoted through, for example, clubs, councils or arranging social and fund-raising events. The sensitive use of assemblies should enable pupils to explore the spiritual dimension of their own and others' experience. Such activities outside the classroom provide for many pupils some of the most valued and worthwhile experiences in their education.

28. Schools give pupils their first extensive experience as members of a complex and organised community. It is characteristic of good schools that all pupils feel that they

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belong, are treated fairly, are valued and have a range of opportunities to contribute to, and participate in, school life. Where this is so pupils are more likely to show self-confidence, consideration for others, interest in what they are doing and pride in themselves and their school. They will be able to go about their tasks needing a minimum of supervision, to take initiatives, to exercise choice sensibly and to accept responsibility.


29. Formulating objectives for personal and social education is essential to clarifying content and procedures. Objectives enable schools to explain their purposes to, and exchange views with, those outside who are legitimately interested in what is being, or should be, done in this area. Objectives should take into account relevant national or local education authority statements, arise from discussion among teachers, governors and parents and be subject to modification as thinking and circumstances change over time. It is the head teacher who has to ensure that objectives are related to the wider, general aims of education and are appropriately reflected in practice.

30. However, no one set of objectives can take full account of the individuality of each boy or girl. Any attempt to use objectives to provide a comprehensive and predetermined framework for personal and social development would narrow, rather than open up, possibilities. It would also fail to recognise that worthwhile personal and social learning may take place but be related only marginally, if at all, to declared objectives. Objectives can do no more than embody certain central features of personal and social development; they cannot reflect its entire landscape.

31. Through relevant objectives and procedures, schools need to try to ensure that the way they use their influence is generally acceptable to all concerned. However, it is always easy in practice to try and establish an unnecessary degree of social conformity, and to neglect the need of individuals to develop, within reasonable limits, in their own way. While schools have to take into account both the needs of society and

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of the individual the ultimate concern must be to establish, and act in accordance with, respect for persons.

32. Objectives establish what is desirable, and reflect only by implication the darker aspects of experience. In personal and social education, objectives are more likely to be pursued in a worthwhile way if the complexity of the human context is acknowledged; this is a task requiring considerable professional skill.

33. It is difficult in personal and social education to relate objectives closely to particular ages; and if this is done results can be artificial or misleading. Within certain broad limits (see para 10), children develop at their own individual pace. Consequently, good teachers are less concerned with girls' or boys' progress in relation to age than to previous, present or expected performance and circumstances. For the most part, in this paper overall objectives are given.

34. Personal qualities and attitudes, knowledge and understanding, abilities and skills are interdependent. While in the following paragraphs they are identified separately to help clarify discussion, it is not intended to imply that they can or should be considered or developed in isolation from one another. Moreover, all are influenced by values, whether or not these are overt. The order in which they are listed is not intended to suggest any hierarchy of importance.

Schools should support the development of certain personal qualities and attitudes among all pupils:

  • independence of mind;
  • self-reliance, self-discipline and self-respect;
  • an enterprising and persistent approach to tasks and challenges;
  • consideration for others;
  • a sense of fairness, together with respect for the processes of law and for the legal rights of others;
  • respect for ways of life, opinions and ideas different from one's own, provided they are based on consideration for others;

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  • readiness to act on behalf of the legitimate interests of others who cannot effectively so act themselves;
  • a commitment to promoting the well-being of the community through democratic means;
  • concern for conservation of the natural world, and for the physical, including the built, environment. (1)
35. At levels appropriate to their ages and abilities, pupils should gain knowledge and understanding of:

(a) themselves, others and their surroundings, including:

  • their own personality, needs, abilities and interests, together with a growing awareness of their particular strengths and weaknesses;
  • human growth, together with some awareness of the nature of emotional, psychological and social development;
  • similarities and differences between themselves and others in biological needs, physical characteristics and cultural background; together with awareness that these differences have implications for the way people relate to, and treat, each other;
  • how to pursue ways of life that promote mental and physical health and how to avoid ways of living that increase the risk of disease, disability and accident. Such aspects of healthy living will include the avoidance of smoking, heavy drinking and drug abuse generally;
  • the nature of relationships in families, peer groups, friendships and work;
  • how to react if they are bullied or abused;
(1) Those objectives concerned with environmental education, health education and careers education are considered in more detail in the relevant publications in the HMI series Curriculum Matters (nos 6, 10 and 13).

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  • how they and others can cause changes, for better or worse, in the immediate surroundings as well as in the wider environment, and therefore have a responsibility for them;
(b) Social responsibilities including:
  • the nature of rules, why they exist and how they differ from law;
  • the structures and procedures through which laws are made and enforced;
  • the main reasons why laws are enacted and legitimate ways in which they may be supported or questioned;
  • the nature of those laws which promote healthy living and the safety of society;
  • sources of legal information and advice;
  • the legal and moral aspects of sexual relationships and marriage;
  • the nature of work, involving understanding of career opportunities, and how these relate to personal aspirations;
  • ways in which social groups are structured economically, politically and socially;
  • the rights and responsibilities of citizenship;
  • decision-making in a democratic society.
Many of the objectives concerned with social responsibilities may appear at first sight to be of more relevance to older pupils. However, in the primary school children need to consider some of these issues, for example, how and why rules are made, reasons for keeping them, and circumstances in which they may be broken. Similarly there should be a growing knowledge and understanding of the range of types of work done by adults, and of the context in which it is carried out.

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(c) Moral ideas and behaviour, including:

  • the nature of moral codes; the ways in which such codes vary between groups and cultures; and the consequences of adopting particular codes;
  • how moral ideas and codes may be justified by reference to religious belief or to particular philosophies;
  • the fact that in Western cultures it is widely held that moral beliefs and behaviours are ultimately a question of personal responsibility, and of ways in which such a stance may be defended and challenged.
Moral understanding is grounded in certain key ideas. Pupils should understand that to be fair or just requires that others' points of view be listened to and solutions to difficulties or conflicts sought which respect the truth and which are concerned for the well-being of all involved. Pupils need to know that being truthful means avoiding deception, even though this may not always be easy; and that failure to tell the truth is likely to diminish their own self-respect and the respect of others for them. Pupils should also appreciate that everyone is involved in promises, undertakings and obligations whether or not they are written or spoken and that to break these in general undermines trust. However, as they grow older pupils should begin to think about the clashes of moral principles they may sometimes have to face.

36. From an early age pupils should be developing a range of personal and social abilities and skills, including how to:

  • be competent in the skills required for everyday living;
  • listen to, and see, others' points of view and put forward their own clearly and appropriately;
  • make choices sensibly in the light of available evidence;
  • cope confidently and effectively with unfamiliar people or situations;
  • learn from personal mistakes and from social situations which have unforeseen consequences;

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  • make moral judgements about what to do in actual situations, justify them, and put them into practice as necessary;
  • take initiatives and act responsibly as an individual and member of the family, school or wider community;
  • act as members of a democracy.
Competence in skills required for everyday living is inevitably of significance in personal and social development. This is almost always given high priority by teachers of young children, but may be overlooked later when such skills may often be assumed to exist. Girls and boys who are physically handicapped, or disadvantaged in some other way, need particularly sustained and sensitive help from teachers.

37. Religious issues are interwoven with personal and social education at every level. They are involved in what it means to be a person; in the nature and justification of moral behaviour, beliefs and attitudes; and in ideas of society and social obligation. Religious issues may need to be considered at appropriate points in relation to the outlined objectives. Where personal and social education is offered in secondary schools as a specific course it may be helpful to include religion as a topic for study. This should be within a school's overall provision of religious education as required by the Education Reform Act (1988); the study of religion should, accordingly, be dealt with in its own right.

Planning and management

38. All schools should indicate in their general educational policies or statements how the whole curriculum aims to promote personal and social development. All schemes of work should show how the subject, topic or course concerned is intended to enhance the area. The head teacher and senior staff have to ensure that, in practice as well as on paper, explicit curricular contributions to personal and social development together form a coherent pattern. Without

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appropriate management there may be uncertainties about definitions and objectives. There may be unintended gaps or duplication in the content of different curricular areas. Individual teachers who could benefit from mutual support may be isolated.

39. In planning personal and social education schools require a range of appropriate strategies to meet the varying needs of pupils. It is also particularly important that they seek to ensure continuity and progression of learning as pupils move from class to class, from school to school, and from school to post-16 provision such as the Youth Training Scheme, colleges of further education or sixth form or tertiary colleges.

40. In primary schools, class teachers should plan a range of activities that support, challenge and inform pupils. In secondary schools such planning may involve work across a number of classes. Accordingly it may be necessary to identify a teacher to coordinate these. Such a role involves negotiation with heads of department, and consequently, if it is to be played effectively, requires a person of some seniority in the school.

41. In promoting personal and social development, sensitive and controversial issues will arise either incidentally or as a planned element of the work. Where this happens teachers need to be fully aware of, and to follow, relevant local education authority and national policies (see Appendix). Senior staff must know what approaches and materials are being used and be satisfied that they are appropriate. There ought also to be school guidelines identifying acceptable practice. These need to indicate that teachers should not attempt to impose their own personal views, whilst being ready to express them at appropriate moments in order to help pupils' exploration of the issues involved. Guidelines need to make clear that teachers should think through methods and subject matter involved and be confident in their use. There should also be clear ground rules, intended to minimise the likelihood of any unintended disclosures taking place where pupils are involved in referring to their own or their families' personal experience. Throughout there needs to be constructive and regular consultation with parents and governors.

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Evaluation and assessment

42. Much of the provision in schools concerned to promote personal and social development is found in subject teaching or pastoral care and can be evaluated by procedures relevant to such areas. However, some of the activities and courses falling explicitly within the province of personal and social education are relatively new and untried. It is important that they too are properly evaluated. Teachers, pupils, parents, governors and other members of the community have a justifiable interest in knowing what the purposes of such activities are and how effective is the learning which takes place.

43. The assessment of individual pupil performance in personal and social education is not easy. However, knowledge and understanding can be assessed through various forms of written work or practical activity. The assessment of skills may be approached by teachers recording professional judgements in open-ended statements, or by the use of specific criteria. Pupils can assess themselves and, as part of classroom activity, assessment can be discussed between teachers and pupils. Questions of comparability and reliability can be considered through discussion between teachers and by obtaining help from others such as local education authority advisers or inspectors.

44. The government statement of policy Records of Achievement (HMSO, 1984) has pointed out that the development of those personal and social qualities not tested by examinations is a crucial function of education. The government would like to see pupils given recognition for achievement and experience in this field. Partly for this reason the government has set, in the White Paper Better Schools (HMSO, 1985), 'the policy objective of establishing by the end of the decade arrangements under which all pupils leaving school will be provided with a record of achievement'. The Records of Achievement National Steering Committee (RANSC) has recently published its report on the national evaluation of pilot schemes. In its initial response to the RANSC report the government has invited the School Examinations and Assessment Council to undertake consultation on the report and to offer advice on what the scope of summary documents should be. Meanwhile, it is clear that any worthwhile record would need to include evidence of

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what a pupil had achieved and experienced. This would entail the recording of activities which demonstrate pupils' personal and social qualities, but preclude contentious or unsupported judgements, for example on how sympathetic or truthful a particular pupil is. Those reading such information might be able to make their own, possibly tentative, judgements.

45. It can however be difficult, in practice, to disentangle the recording of actions which reflect personal qualities from their assessment. Teachers need to remember that context influences behaviour, that individuals change over time and more particularly that in relationships the observer affects the observed. Consequently, recording of personal achievement should be done with a light touch, be open to discussion, and be presented as indicative. In general a school which encourages lively discussion amongst pupils and staff, respect for differing viewpoints and an awareness of human fallibility is likely to create an ethos in which constructive and acceptable approaches to such recording may occur.

46. How and whether attitudes should be assessed is an important question in personal and social education. This issue has recently been considered by the Task Group on Assessment and Testing set up by the Secretary of State for Education and Science. In its report it recognised 'the importance of educational aims which relate to the development of personal attitudes'. However, mainly because of the problem of confidentiality, the group did not recommend that assessment of attitudes should form a prescribed part of the national assessment system. On the other hand the group did judge it appropriate to include information about pupils' attitudes in records of achievement.

47. In the longer term, in personal and social education, schools need to develop, within the framework of their overall policies, coherent and appropriate approaches to the evaluation of curricular provision and to the assessment and recording of pupils' progress.

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Sensitive and controversial issues: the legal framework

The following legislation is of direct relevance to the teaching of sensitive and controversial issues in schools:

Education (No 2) Act 1986

Political indoctrination

Section 44

(1) The local education authority by whom any county, voluntary or special school is maintained, and the governing body and head teacher of the school shall forbid -

(a) the pursuit of partisan political activities by any of those registered pupils at the school who are junior pupils; and

(b) the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in the school.

(2) In the case of activities which take place otherwise than on the premises of the school concerned, subsection (1)(a) above applies only where arrangements for junior pupils to take part in the activities are made by any member of the staff of the school (in his capacity as such) or by anyone acting on his, or the school's behalf.
Duty to secure balanced treatment of political issues

Section 45

The local education authority by whom any county, voluntary or special school is maintained, and the governing body and head teacher of the school, shall take such steps as are reasonably practicable to secure that where political issues are brought to the attention of pupils while they are

(a) at the school; or

(b) taking part in extra-curricular activities which are provided or organised for registered pupils at the school by or on behalf of the school;

they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views.

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Sex education

Section 46

The local education authority by whom any county, voluntary or special school is maintained, and the governing body and head teacher of the school, shall take such steps as are reasonably practicable to secure that where sex education is given to any registered pupils at the school it is given in such a manner as to encourage those pupils to have due regard to moral considerations and the value of family life.
Regarding sex education in particular, control over content and organisation rests with school governing bodies. They are responsible, subject to certain limitations where public examinations are concerned, for deciding whether or not sex education is to be provided at their school, and, if so, what its content and organisation should be (section 18(2),(6) of the Education (no 2) Act 1986).

The DES/Welsh Office Circular Sex Education at School (DES Circular 11/87, Welsh Office Circular 45/87) states (para 19): 'Schools should foster a recognition that both sexes should behave responsibly in sexual matters. Pupils should be helped to appreciate the benefits of stable married and family life and the responsibilities of parenthood.' It also says (para 21):

Schools cannot, in general, avoid tackling controversial sexual matters, such as contraception and abortion, by reason of their sensitivity. Pupils may well ask questions about them and schools should be prepared to offer balanced and factual information and to acknowledge the major ethical issues involved. Where schools are founded on specific religious principles this will have a direct bearing on the manner in which such subjects are presented.

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Further reading

A survey of personal and social education courses in some secondary schools: a report by HM Inspectors. DES, 1988.

Developments in records of achievement 1986-1988: a report by HM Inspectors. DES, 1988.

Education Observed 5: Good behaviour and discipline in schools: a report by HM Inspectors. DES, 1988.

Your choice for life: AIDS Education for 14-16 year olds: a users' guide (to the video resource pack), Annex B 'Legal aspects of sexual behaviour and the young'. DES/Welsh Office, 1987.