Curriculum & PSHE

Emotional health and wellbeing can be promoted across the curriculum with the arts being a fantastic way to explore topics such as emotions and identity. In particular, Personal Social Health Education (PSHE) education helps pupils to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to manage many of the critical opportunities, challenges and responsibilities they will face as they grow up and in adulthood.

"It is important that the skills and competencies children and young people are taught are indeed generic and not just tied to specific situations. Help learners generalise to real life".

Durlak et al, 1995
   ‘Zones of Regulation’ Curriculum
The Zones of Regulation

The Zones of Regulation is a curriculum geared toward helping students gain skills in consciously regulating their actions, which in turn leads to increased control and problem solving abilities. Using a cognitive behaviour approach, the curriculum’s learning activities are designed to help students recognise when they are in different states called “zones,” with each of four zones represented by a different colour. In the activities, students also learn how to use strategies or tools to stay in a zone or move from one to another. Students explore calming techniques, cognitive strategies, and sensory supports so they will have a toolbox of methods to use to move between zones. To deepen students’ understanding of how to self-regulate, the lessons set out to teach students these skills: how to read others’ facial expressions and recognise a broader range of emotions, perspective about how others see and react to their behaviour, insight into events that trigger their less regulated states, and when and how to use tools and problem solving skills.

The curriculum’s learning activities are presented in 18 lessons. To reinforce the concepts being taught, each lesson includes probing questions to discuss and instructions for one or more learning activities. Many lessons offer extension activities and ways to adapt the activity for individual student needs. The curriculum also includes worksheets, other handouts, and visuals to display and share. These can be photocopied from this book or printed from the accompanying CD or USB drive. In addition, the Zones of Regulation poster can be purchased to support these concepts in the classroom.

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   Curriculum – Herbert and Lohrmann (2011)

The methodologies of teaching and learning that are used in the classroom have a high degree of influence on how effectively emotional and social competences are learned. Herbert and Lohrmann (2011) conducted a content analysis investigating instructional strategies used in ten health education curricula which were research-based and proven via empirical testing, to positively influence any of six health risk behaviours. They identified three active learning strategies which were evidenced in all ten curricula:

  • role play
  • group cooperation and
  • small group discussion

Interactive technology and team games were also used in some curricula.

They concluded that active learning strategies are key to effective health education, as they allow students to apply knowledge through practice. They argue that substantial instructional time needs to be devoted to involving students in skills practice.

   Physical Education

What is the contribution of physical education, physical activity and sport to emotional wellbeing and mental health?

Physical activity and involvement in sport and outdoor education can play a big part in supporting Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health. Enabling young people to integrate physical activity into daily routines can be the best way to increase the amount and the longevity of being active. Making it as easy as possible by reducing the barriers to being and keeping physically active will help young people maintain such a behaviour change.

You can integrate physical activity into group or individual sessions through: warm up and wake up activities; active learning; taster sessions of different exercises or sports; after-school clubs; walk and talk meetings and promotion of and visits to local clubs and leisure services.

Physical activity

Access further physical education resources here:

  • Active Derbyshire - Not specifically designed for young people but lists many activities, clubs and events promoting physical activity in Derbyshire.
  • Derby Leisure - Information about leisure and countryside services across the county.
  • British Orienteering and Xplorer - two websites to help young people get involved in orienteering.
  • Visit Sport England's website for up-to-date information and research.
   Setting ground rules

Ground rules for teaching about mental health and emotional wellbeing - PSHE Association

It is important that before teaching about issues like mental health and emotional wellbeing, clear ground-rules are established or reinforced and the concepts of confidentiality and anonymity covered at the start of the lesson. Ground rules need to be consistently adhered to, regularly revisited and, if necessary, renegotiated and reinforced. The teacher should lead the way by modelling the ground rules in their own communications with the class.

Where time allows, ground-rules are most effective when they have been negotiated and agreed with the pupils, rather than imposed by the teacher. For further guidance about negotiating ground rules and the use of distancing techniques, please download the resource.

   Talking to pupils when they make mental health disclosures

The way in which that disclosure is first handled will be critically important, both in terms of the pupil’s immediate feelings and his or her likelihood of engaging in future support.

It is crucial, therefore, that clear ground rules are set for PSHE lessons, one of which will be that personal matters should not be discussed in a group setting, another that while PSHE teachers are always willing to talk to pupils about the pupil’s personal situation in a one-to-one setting, they can never promise confidentiality, since disclosures may have safeguarding implications. What teachers can do, however, is to listen sensitively and in a supportive way while at the same time gathering the information they need to consider what to do next.

Head over to our External Agency Support repository and check out the PSHE Association for support, guidance and information on how to get the most out of PSHE.

External agency support

   The importance of Personal Social Health Education (PSHE)

How can PSHE benefit pupils?

PSHE education helps pupils to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to manage many of the critical opportunities, challenges and responsibilities they will face as they grow up and in adulthood.

By teaching pupils to stay safe and healthy, and by building self esteem, resilience and empathy, an effective PSHE programme can tackle barriers to learning, raise aspirations, and improve the life chances of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils.

There is evidence to show that PSHE can address teenage pregnancy, substance misuse, unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity, and emotional health. The skills and attributes developed through PSHE are also shown to increase academic attainment and attendance rates, particularly among pupils eligible for free school meals, as well as improving employability and boosting social mobility. (as cited on the PSHE Association website).

   The Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL)

The SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) publication was developed as a result of 500 schools taking part in the Primary National Strategy’s Behaviour and Attendance pilot. Although the resource was written way back in May 2005, there are still so many useful resources that can be built into your current PSHE programme or can be used to target particular children and families. This resource aims to develop the underpinning qualities and skills that help promote positive behaviour and effective learning. It focuses on five social and emotional aspects of learning: self-awareness, managing feelings, motivation, empathy and social skills.

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