1. In the age of COVID-19, PSHE can never again be just a way of filling up “tutor time”
With COVID-19 you can no longer see PSHE as peripheral: when schools open again, staff will be relying on students to keep the teachers safe and vice-versa! Think about that. It changes the PSHE game. There will also be a whole range of consequential needs to address, with mental health coming high on the list.
2. Our theme in the lessons week beginning 27 April is “Staying safe from COVID-19: playing our part in a global combat.”
The 6-minute video below has been designed to be used before a 15-minute segment of Dr John Campbell’s youth awareness video. It prepares the way for his general point about teenage risky behaviour and introduces the idea of donkeys as “health & safety officers.” Contrast the risk-averse donkey and the risk-taking teenager. Ergo, teenagers must become “more like donkeys.”
3. Just the first 15-minutes of this video is all you need
Watch this excellent COVID-19 youth awareness video put out by the NHS nurse-trainer Dr John Campbell. It should be a lightbulb moment for teachers and students alike when Dr John uses the very stark image of the Russian roulette game in the film Rambo, which is 12-minutes into the video.
Key teaching point is this: teenagers are risk-takers! That always applied to other concerns of PSHE in the past (drugs, alcohol, child protection issues, etc.) but now their risky behaviour in a world of COVID-19 could kill others, particularly older relatives.
Please watch the video: just the first 15-minutes
Dr John Campbell: the best information source for COVID-19 updates
He is a retired NHS nurse trainer and does daily briefings on YouTube
4. TES keynote article from PSHE Association
A keynote article appeared in the TES in April by Elizabeth Laming of the PSHE Association.
It’s not often that I’ve ever been one week ahead of the TES: I usually relied on that publication to give me the ideas! The article was broadly in line with the thought that kept me awake one night a week ago, when I started writing notes towards a “COVID-19 PSHE MANIFESTO”.
I’ve taken Laming’s points and spell it out as a full introduction to COVID-19 PSHE.
5. 10-step guide to be a COVID-19 PSHE Superteacher:
- With learning moving from classrooms to living rooms, and with pupils and parents facing new ways of working, PSHE has more relevance than it ever did before! Students/pupils need to be equipped with strategies for a wide range of physical and mental safety issues, and even online safety becomes more of an issue than before.
- Since PSHE covers sensitive material it is important to avoid certain topics that are unsuitable outside of the classroom context.” My emphasis. If you raise an issue that the child cannot deal with on their own, or may try to discuss with an adult unaware of the topic context, this may end in a poor experience.
- The disorientation of a completely unexpected new routine at home – just as with adults – means they will likely have concerns which may make it harder for them to concentrate on learning for long periods of time,as they did in their former routines.
- Short sequenced activities may be better than hour-long PSHE lessons. Introductions might be all you have time for, to help pupils work through a topic later at their own pace. Schools are using both approaches in their respective online strategies.
- All lessons and resources should “distance the learning” by not using the real experiences of pupils or people known to them. This standard best practice needs extra emphasis when delivering PSHE directly into the home.
- Age-appropriate support would ideally also be flagged up, such as Child line and other national and local support services. But this may be absent in the Costa Blanca setting where some of you are teaching, for example, so make sure your teaching does not leave too many loose ends for an unsupported child to follow up.
- See the PSHE Association guide to choosing PSHE resources applicable for home learning. Some topics are quite unsuited to home learning (eating disorders and self-harm would be obvious non-starters, and you will think of others).
- Activities must be adapted. Where no class discussion is possible,
pupils might weigh up both sides of an argument and write a conclusion. For adapting activities or embedding PSHE into home life, see adapting lessons for home learning.
- Online coronavirus support hub includes the various pieces of guidance highlighted above and will be updated with tips and ideas for suitable activities to give pupils to work on at home.
- Finally, the COVID-19 Coronavirus epidemic is an immense cause of disorientation and anxiety. It should not be presented with the kind of drama the student is already familiar with from news output. The object of all teaching of COVID-19 PSHE is to provide awareness of practical steps to take to keep self and others safe.
6. Parents: Personal, Social and Health Education
If you have the immense pleasure of being locked up at home with teenagers then good news! PSHE is for you too! You could not spend 30 mins more usefully than watching the above video, then making a few notes. For example, listen to the powerful “Russian roulette” sequence Dr John does. Then think about how you might elaborate and emphasise the need to avoid risk.