Ofsted inspection case study: a comprehensive secondary in the North West

Jun 6, 2022 8:56:36 AM
Ofsted inspections are now routinely placing more emphasis on PSHE education – and statutory Relationships, Sex and Health Education aspects in particular. We want to help schools understand what this means in practice by highlighting case studies from PSHE leads and teachers whose schools have been through inspection.

We hear below from Megan Jones, who was Head of PSHE at a Catholic secondary comprehensive school in North West England during its inspection late last year. Megan tells us about what Ofsted asked and how the school plans to develop their PSHE education based on feedback they received.

You can also come to our 23 June Summer Conference for an exclusive update from Ofsted on changes to inspecting PSHE/RSHE from September and workshops to help you prepare.

Tell us about PSHE education in your school…

“If I’m honest, PSHE education is a subject that has been delivered in countless ways at our school, including via form time, selected lesson time, ‘drop down days’ and assemblies.

When I took over the lead role a few years ago and went on CPD courses to update me on the latest good practice, I soon realised that this approach wasn’t good enough to meet statutory RSHE guidelines. So we now deliver PSHE to KS3 through timetabled fortnightly lessons, and though KS4 is currently covered through drop down days, we have plans to introduce timetabled lessons at this key stage too.

When designing the long-term curriculum plan for KS3, I used the Thematic Programme Builder from the PSHE Association website, which really helped me when planning how each topic would flow throughout the year, as well as ensuring that we revisited the key themes as our students grow through each year group. The curriculum is split into each of the three key themes: Health and Wellbeing, Relationships and Living in the Wider World; and during each half term, all three-year groups are learning the same theme with different topics within each.

We have a team of four staff who teach PSHE and we made sure that they have all had the appropriate CPD needed to ensure consistency and confidence in our teaching practice. Student voice feedback also suggests that our students LOVE their PSHE lessons. They enjoy getting to learn about different topics, and have open discussions about sometimes challenging content in a safe learning environment. We have introduced strategies to support this safe environment — such as the ‘Ask it Basket’ and our ‘Classroom Agreement’ — which all students are on board with."

Tell us a little about what Ofsted focussed on in their inspection…

"First of all, it wasn’t a deep dive – we were asked for a 45-minute meeting, with me (as PSHE lead) and our member of SLT that oversees PSHE and Careers across the whole school."

Questions we were asked included:

  • Introduce yourself and give a little context on you and your career
  • Describe your PSHE provision across school, including KS3
  • How do you know what to put into your curriculum design for your students?
  • How do you ensure that students’ knowledge is revisited for the different topics you teach? How have you sequenced your curriculum?
  • How is your PSHE delivered for the different Key Stages?
  • Do you meet the statutory requirements for RSHE? (and if so, how?)
  • Do you think drop down days are beneficial? Do you think provision of PSHE is crucial for the older students and why?
  • In terms of careers education, what opportunities do students have in school?
  • Do the staff that teach PSHE receive CPD?
  • How do you ensure that pupils are safeguarded in PSHE lessons?
  • What procedures do you have in place in lessons to ensure students are comfortable if they want to disclose any information?
  • What is your vision for PSHE at your school?
  • What are the next steps in developing PSHE in your school?

Main reflections on what this means for your PSHE education going forward?

"This year, I no longer have the PSHE lead role as I am now a Head of Year, however I still teach a large proportion of the PSHE lessons across school. We have an amazing PSHE lead who is continuously developing our PSHE education curriculum, with the plan to introduce timetabled KS4 PSHE lessons from September.

After our time spent with Ofsted, and through their feedback in the report, it was clear that we needed to develop our PSHE provision at KS4, so this is now our focus for the next academic year. We may keep some of the drop-down days and use them to reinforce key topics; however, the focus will be on making sure the older students spend equal time learning in PSHE lessons.

The team of staff delivering PSHE will grow next year, so we will be making sure they all get the CPD they need to feel comfortable teaching all areas of the curriculum within a safe classroom environment.

To allow us to plan content that is meeting the needs of our students, we will carry out pupil reviews and a student voice survey to ask about their experiences this year in PSHE. We’ll then take the findings of this and plan accordingly. We are also working closely with the pastoral teams to look at key issues that arise and consider our local health statistics to help establish priorities. As we are a Catholic school, our teaching is always delivered with the Catholic life of the school at the forefront. We use a selection of appropriate resources to guide our planning and to ensure that everything is delivered in line with our Catholic values."

Any other advice for schools based on your experiences with Ofsted?

My tips:

  1. All year groups must have regular timetabled PSHE lessons – drop down days are not sufficient.
  2. Make sure you know your curriculum plan inside out: why did you plan it like that? What have you included? How did you decide to choose those topics?
  3. Make sure your PSHE education curriculum covers Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education content to meet statutory requirements.
  4. Be honest – if you know you still have work to do with the subject, explain what, how and why you’re going to do it. They appreciated how it was a developmental process for us as a school.
  5. Make sure you are delivering staff CPD to those who teach PSHE – they will ask about this and as it covers several ‘sensitive’ topics, you need to ensure that staff feel comfortable, and that the learning environment is safe.
  6. If you have a sixth form, make sure they receive an extensive level of timetabled PSHE.
  7. Make sure you are clear with your parental contact – you must have communicated your whole school PSHE curriculum with your parents in some way e.g. parental letters, information evenings, school website.
  8. Create a culture amongst the teaching staff that makes it easy for them speak up about any issues they’ve faced when teaching certain topics, so that everyone feels supported (some of the content is challenging!)
  9. Get your school a PSHE Association membership! I haven’t been asked to plug this, I have used the website and its resources/courses/guidance over and over again.
  10. In your meeting – be yourself, show how passionate you are about PSHE and don’t be afraid to say if you think something needs improving.
Have you been asked about PSHE/RSHE during inspection? If so, get in touch! We may publish a selection of case studies and others will prove very useful for our team when planning training and resources.