Welcoming the next generation of PSHE education teachers

It is a warm Saturday morning in May, and a group of almost-qualified teachers at the University of Birmingham have gathered to receive their PSHE Association Chartered Trainee Teacher certificate. The group of 85 trainees will soon be graduating from their PGDipEd in a range of subjects as diverse as Religious Education (RE), PE, Geography and modern foreign languages (MFL), but they have also spent their second teaching placement exploring and teaching PSHE education as an additional specialism.

Dr Sarah Hall teaches on the secondary education course and is in charge of the ‘Whole School Issues’ programme undertaken by the entire cohort of trainee teachers. Although the programme covers a range of relevant and topical issues in education such as safeguarding and special needs, Sarah said “I wanted to change it to suit the changing needs of both the educational landscape and some of the issues that students face today as trainee teachers. I saw the Chartered Trainee Teacher award as an opportunity to open students’ eyes to PSHE, and possible future roles beyond their subject areas.”

As their course comes to an end, the students have met  to share experiences with one another and their PSHE lead mentors, as well as celebrate receiving their certificates. It has been an overwhelmingly positive and motivating experience for all of them. “I did have reservations at the beginning,” admits one, but now he says “I absolutely want to continue teaching it.” He used what he calls the “privileged position” of having additional training to work PSHE creatively into his MFL teaching, such as asking students to analyse and compare ‘selfies’ from different cultures, and discuss the kinds of images different cultures present of themselves online.

One Geography trainee describes her experience of teaching PSHE twice a week to her form group as “rewarding”, and what a difference she felt it has made, not only to the students, but to her own feelings about teaching generally. She found herself enjoying teaching PSHE “even more than my own subject”, and now wants to pursue a career as a PSHE lead.

All speak enthusiastically of the additional insight that teaching a subject “which relates to [pupils’] actual lives” has given them into their pupils’ learning and skills development. One trainee describes PSHE as giving pupils a “thinking and shared space which is limited in an ordinary subject,” as it “sparks off issues in other areas”. Another says that it improves their relationship with their pupils:  “PSHE makes teachers seem a bit more human.”

Then there’s the practical side of coming to the end of their training: many see the award as being beneficial for job applications. As vacancies often ask for experience or an interest in PSHE they say that having this award gives them a definite advantage in a crowded job market.

Sarah is delighted at the effect that introducing the award has had, and describes it as having a real impact. “I am really excited,” she says, “about the fact that trainees are thinking outside of their subject area, and have all become deeply interested in PSHE and what it can bring to the lives of young people.” She intends to continue to offer the award on future PGDipEd courses, which can only be good news for our young people’s futures.

Find out more about the Chartered Teacher training programmes for trainee and qualified teachers


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