At Birkdale Primary, we aim to ensure that our children spend their time in school experiencing a whole range of exciting and engaging curriculum lessons that continually ignite a love of learning for all subjects.
Our Life Lessons were created as a way to ensure that the children are also developing the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to manage many of the critical choices, 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, our Life Lessons can tackle barriers to learning, raise aspirations, and ensure that children are equipped with the skills and information they need to keep themselves safe, both physically and emotionally.
Life Lessons focus on the recommended outcomes for children as set out in the following government guidance:
In order to achieve this throughout school, we have created a programme that is split into 6 key areas. These areas become a focus for each half-term. Alongside this, we base our assemblies and external visitors on 3 termly focuses.
Please see the attached documents to see how we deliver our Life Lessons in school.
Please do contact us if you are a school and wish to use our scheme. Thank you.
What do we do in our lessons?
Good To Be Me!
This unit focuses on encouraging the children to recognise and celebrate their strengths, skills and achievements and appreciate their uniqueness. The children set goals and targets for themselves and discuss steps for success and how to overcome challenges along the way. They think about what aspirations they might have and, in KS2, the children discuss self-motivation and what to do when they are finding something difficult. Each year group learns about an inspirational person and the children record what skills and attributes that person has/had that enabled them to achieve their goal and become inspirational to others. The unit also addresses how and why it is 'good to be me' in a country with a democracy which lets us have our say and all children are encouraged to make their voice heard and share their ideas and opinions in school (drawing particularly on the role of the School Council). Critical thinking is a key theme in this unit and provides the children with time to think and discuss how they would handle a variety of situations by considering outcomes, consequences and successes. They have the opportunity to share their reasoning, deliver their own argument, take part in a debate and develop resilience.
This unit begins with an understanding of healthy food and positive choices. As the children progress through the school, they learn about different healthy and balanced meals and, by upper KS2, the children are encouraged to think carefully about making healthy choices with their own snacks and spending money! The children also learn about a range of other considerations when it comes to food such as what 'seasonal' means, free-range foods and different cultural food practices. The children use some of their P.E. lessons to explore exercise, thinking about what it does for our bodies, different types of exercises and how they benefit our bodies and considering how we can get more exercise into our daily lives. The children also consider the importance of hygiene for a healthy body, how things like sell-by dates prevent us from eating spoiled food and the role of antibiotics and immunisations in keeping us safe and healthy. Finally, the unit guides the children to appreciate the importance of a happy and healthy mind as well as a healthy body. All children take part in engaging and age-relevant mindfulness and Growth Mindset activities, focusing on the importance of positivity; this is often linked to art activities, exercise such as yoga, role-play and reflective class/group/1:1 discussions. Teachers then carefully guide the children to develop an understanding of how thoughts, feelings and emotions are not always happy and positive. As they move through the school, they explore a wider range of difficult feelings that they might encounter, from sadness and loneliness to jealousy and rejection. Year 6 work on possible times of stress and anxiety and create strategies for managing these feelings. At the start of the year, all children create a 'safety network' of adults they can trust and this is drawn on during this unit to remind children that they can always ask for help and advice if they are struggling with negative thoughts or feelings. By upper key stage 2, the children have explored what is meant by 'mental health' and have developed a good awareness of this.
Working Together aims to help the children understand the importance of collaboration, co-operation and care when working with and alongside others. The children think first about the people who live within our community and how we can support and care for each other. The children learn more about problems affecting the elderly, the homeless, children whose needs are not being met and refugees. The school councilors then collect ideas from their classes to feed into a 'School Community Event' (as part of our role in the Southport Learning Partnership) and the School Council decide who the event will focus on. Each year group focuses on a way in which people might be 'different' from themselves and learns more about how these differences can affect their lives and how and when they may need extra help. This includes visual and hearing impairments, people who need to use wheelchairs, autism and, in year 6, people struggling with mental health. The children also consider 'working together' within the wider world to care for our environment, including deforestation, pollution and sustainable sources. Our Year 6s promote Fair Trade Fortnight and raise awareness in school of Fair Trade products. This unit also emphasises the importance within our country of working well with others despite cultural or religious differences. Teachers encourage children to embrace other cultures and try and find out more about them rather than question them or think of them as 'unimportant' because they are not their own beliefs. Teachers draw on learning across the R.E. curriculum to support this.
This unit addresses bullying by raising awareness of how, why and when people might bully or experience bullying and how this is not always easy to spot or for someone being bullied to talk about. Children are reminded of the importance of their 'safety network' if they have any concerns around bullying, for themselves or others, and use some of their Computing time to learn specifically about cyber bullying and staying safe online.
This unit focuses on the importance of good, healthy and happy relationships in our lives; who they might be with, how they make us feel, how to spot one and how to maintain one. The children are taught the value of the important people in their lives and encouraged to recognise how their relationships with these people enhance their well-being. The children are also made aware, in age-appropriate sessions, that sometimes relationships are not always 'good' and do not always make us feel happy or safe. The children are given strategies to help them manage unhappy relationships or ones that make them feel uncomfortable or confused, always referring back to their own Safety Network. As the children get older, they also learn about different types of relationships between others and how to respect each relationship for being special.
The unit also teaches the children about the importance of their bodies and how to keep themselves healthy and safe, as well as some of the changes they will experience as they get older.
Money, Money, Money!
This Life Lesson unit, that draws on and extends the children's learning in Maths, helps them to understand the value of money in every day life. The children start by learning to recognise different coins and notes and why money is needed in the simplest of term. As they get older, the children explore spending vs saving, keeping track of money available to them and what they have spent, where money is 'kept' (current accounts, savings, credit and finance), charitable giving and a wider range of things that money is needed for. The children are encouraged to consider the difference between things that they 'want' and things that they 'need' and Year 5 explore how advertising aims to persuade us to spend our money on 'wants' by making them seem like necessities! Year 6 go on to consider ways in which money can become a problem, by exploring the concept of 'debt' and taking risks with money such as gambling.
Throughout the unit, children use hypothetical and fictional scenarios when it comes to discussing money or choices.
The World Around Me
In the last half term of the year, each year group chooses a particular country to focus on. The children consider the climate, language, religions and wider cultural aspects of their chosen country. They collect information about; famous people (past and present) who were born in that country and how inspirational they were; films that were set/filmed there; the predominant religion(s) and any religious holidays that are observed; cultural food, music, dancing, art and famous landmarks from the country. The children continually make comparisons to the UK and where the main differences and similarities lie and children are encouraged to consider whether they would like to experience any of these customs or introduce some to the UK. The children also conduct research into any natural disasters that have occurred in their chose country in the past or whether the country has different 'risks' to the UK, such as earthquakes or volcanoes.
Each year group goes on to consider what life would be like for the children living in that country, thinking about whether school, weekend activities, food and jobs would be different to ours. They think sensitively about how some children throughout the world do not have the same opportunities that we do and they learn about some charities that aim to improve this.
Finally, the children have the opportunity to showcase their learning with their Partner Class at the end of the year!