Facts4Life in Action
The Catholic School of Saint Gregory the Great
After reviewing our provision for PSHE we recognised that there was a gap in teaching to develop and support children’s understanding of both physical and mental health and wellbeing and the responsibility we all have for maintaining this. We were very impressed with the Facts4Life scheme of work and decided that this would fill the gap in our PSHE provision.
As a Catholic school, we cover the PinK curriculum objectives in a variety of ways such as through our RE teaching, assemblies, masses and collective worship and the use of SMSC objectives in all lessons. This ensures that PSHE is threaded through our curriculum and therefore, with this in mind, we decided to thread the Facts4Life scheme through the year in a similar way as we were concerned that a stand-alone ‘PSHE Week’ might result in a loss of understanding or emphasis.
At the beginning of every new term, each year group teaches one to two PSHE lessons using the Facts4Life scheme of work. This allows us to start each term in the right way; thinking about our own wellbeing and the responsibility we have for maintaining this. Both staff and children are enjoying the scheme; the resources are well prepared and the support materials mean that, as teachers, we are ready and able to discuss any issues or illnesses raised by the children! The range of activities allows children to develop understanding and reflect on the topics covered in new and interesting ways and evidence of our learning is collated in a class PSHE learning journey file.
The emphasis on mental wellbeing has also contributed to a huge shift in awareness and understanding amongst our children who now recognise that, just as we may suffer from physical ill-health, so might we suffer from mental ill-health. Pupil conferencing has shown that children are enjoying their PSHE lessons and are developing a good understanding of the importance of health and wellbeing.
Subsequently, as part of our work towards the GHLL Mental Health Champions Award, we decided to take the opportunity to link the 30 day Facts4Life challenge to Mental Health. We launched the challenge in January and had a whole school focus. Each class, led by the children, put together a bank of ideas for ways in which they could promote and support positive mental wellbeing. Ideas included dance, meditation, exercise, sharing worries, peer massage and listening to music amongst others! Each day the children selected one activity from the jar to complete as a class. Both children and staff loved the experience and many classes have continued this practice beyond the 30 days! It was also an effective way for us to expose the children to the different ways in which we can support our own mental wellbeing and recognise that different strategies work for different people.
Year 6 Teacher and Senior Leadership Team
The Federation of Newent Schools
The Facts4Life materials have been used in a range of settings at Picklenash School – with the whole class, small group work and on a 1 to 1 basis with selected students. The programme has provided good opportunity to explore with students a range of important issues:
- Experience of illness and attendance at school
- Resilience and strategies for keeping healthy, including a sleep diary and a record of water intake
- Differences between us and the range of physical skills within the group – affirming each individual
- Supporting mental wellbeing with breathing activities, stilling and massage
We have had significant success in supporting a junior age student, who was experiencing difficulties in school with low attendance, reluctance to engage and high levels of anxiety. As a result of a targeted approach and individual support using Facts4Life activities, the student is now flourishing, demonstrating real improvements in health, mental positivity and resilience. Her enjoyment of school is now very evident and she is able to relate well to teaching staff and her peers.
The Rissington School
Currently at our school, we are in the process of rethinking our PSHCE curriculum and are incorporating the Facts4Life Programme into our programme of study. We particularly like that the Facts4Life approach focuses on the normality of health and illness, and teaches children strategies to manage their own health effectively, through the three key messages of ‘Riding the ups and downs’, ‘Keeping balanced’ and ‘Smoothing the path’.
As a whole staff we have participated in both the Core and Mental Health training, and are beginning to use the resources available with our classes, based on the children’s needs and misconceptions. As we write our PSHCE curriculum, we will be using the Facts4Life resources to both enhance the resources we already have, and also to help build in cross curricular links to other subjects, particularly science.
We plan to fully introduce the children to the Three Key Messages in the New Year, through the whole school assembly resources available. Staff will then continue to use these three key messages in their own classrooms, both when delivering PSHCE explicitly and outside of these lessons.
As a school we have highlighted that the children we teach need much more support with their mental and emotional wellbeing, and we will be using the F4L ethos and mental health resources to teach and encourage our children to understand and manage their own wellbeing. The F4L training on mental health made it exceptionally clear to us how we can address the children’s needs and concerns in a safe manner that encourages them to take responsibility for their own wellbeing, and realise that ‘normal’ isn’t always being happy and without worries.
Year 5/6 Teacher