North Bromsgrove High School and Sixth Form is a mixed comprehensive high school in Worcestershire, England, near Birmingham. With approximately 850 students aged 13 to 18, the school prides itself on offering a respectful community where learners can feel safe and secure while striving to achieve their potential.
After learning about SLQ’s Personal Skills Programme, the school became the first in the country to sign up and deliver the programme, in the process becoming a Pioneer School and agreeing to help shape the development and refinement of the award series.
The school’s Assistant Headteacher, Donna Hodgson, has been instrumental in setting up the school’s platform for delivering PSP. She said: “It was clear when I first joined the school that we had an opportunity to develop our culture in order to help develop the whole person. The school was in special measures and didn’t have anything in place that was really building character, so one of the first things I did was to bring in some values for students which we build our pastoral system around.”
“This aligns with the Personal Skills Programme because we could see our recently embedded CARE values and our school motto within it. Communication, for example, fits across the community part of our CARE values, so we could see very easily how the programme could drive those values forward and allow us to develop the whole student.
“Previously there was no reward system, no cohesion across behaviour, so we needed to draw all that together and look at the qualities and skills that the students have as individuals - we just needed a vehicle really to drive that all forward”
Since Ofsted’s updated inspection framework came into force in September 2019, schools have been provided with a statutory duty to provide evidence of their provision for personal development, including character education and building resilience.
This revised criteria has required schools to ensure they have clear programmes for developing these skills in their learners, something that Mrs Hodgson feels PSP provides: “There was a negative from our previous Ofsted report about behaviour, enrichment and personal skills. There was no reward system and little cohesion across behaviour so we had to try and draw all that together.
“While it was driven by our Ofsted inspection, it was a void in the school that we needed to fill for the children, for their own wellbeing.
“One feature that has come up quite quickly from our evaluation that we’ve done with the students already is their confidence and their ability to communicate a bit more confidently – it’s those traits that we’ll start to see across the classroom, helping to develop their skills academically.”
The school began delivering PSP in January 2020, with pupils taking on the Transition Award to help them adapt to life in a new school. Since beginning the award, Mrs Hodgson has seen the learners quickly pick up its sessions and activities, in addition to already demonstrating the required behaviours: “The students have already given us feedback, saying things like: ‘having a day to focus on the programme gave us a chance to get to know our peers better and a chance to reflect on our strengths and weaknesses – we were able to consider these and set targets towards improving them.’
“We’re currently looking at our curriculum and what we’re going to offer our students next year and we’re building a character slot into our timetable. What we need to do now is ask students how it’s having an impact on them in the classroom.
“The School is on a rapid trajectory of improvement and has come out of Special Measures in record time, whilst personal development and welfare was judged as ‘good’, once they start to see the personal skills programme as part of their regular curriculum, a regular part of their diet, with an opportunity to have an award at the end of it, we should only see further successes.”