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Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) is a theme of the Healthy Schools Programme. At Teyfant Community School in Bristol, PSHE is part of school life.
Teyfant is a primary school, with nursery provision, for children age three to 11 in Hartcliffe, Bristol. Gus Grimshaw has been head teacher since 1989.
Mr Grimshaw says that the community served by Teyfant poses some special challenges to the school:
“Education is not a priority for some in our community,” he says. “This is a community where some people have faced long-term unemployment, and where there are high levels of obesity, drug dependency and mental health problems.
“That’s why the Healthy Schools Programme and PSHE are so important to everything we do at Teyfant. Children can’t learn if they're hungry or feeling insecure or worried about home. We have to create an environment where they feel valued, respected and able to take risks.”
The importance of routine
If children are to thrive at school, having a routine is vital, says Grimshaw. Teyfant creates a routine around the school day in several ways.
“We’ve run a breakfast club for years now,” says Grimshaw. “Children can come to school early and get a healthy breakfast that includes fruit and cereal.
“We also run a daily minibus to take children to and from school. This means that as well as being here and being fed, school is a central part of the children's lives."
One important element of PSHE is creating an atmosphere in which children feel valued and respected.
“We encourage the children to listen to each other and share their thoughts.
“One of the ways we do this is circle time. Children sit in a circle and only one person speaks at a time.
"Anyone can contribute, or pass if they don’t want to speak. Children talk openly about personal issues because they know that what they say will be respected.
“Learning is about being honest. That means being able to say, ‘I don’t understand this yet’. It’s taken a long time to establish an atmosphere where children feel able to do that, but we have succeeded.”
Like many schools, Teyfant has incidents of bullying. But the mark of a good school, says Grimshaw, is how these incidents are handled.
“We are aware that bullying exists everywhere, throughout life. Our policy is that we can't beat bullies alone. We take time to understand what is happening, and then we work at resolving it. We show the children that by working together, things get better. We don't have many incidents of bullying at Teyfant.”
Involving parents in the life of their child’s school is an essential part of the Healthy Schools programme.
“Parents have a vital role in making a healthy and happy school,” says Grimshaw. “Their involvement helps to create links between school and home. It helps our parents support their child’s learning and wellbeing. It helps them to take pride in the school they send their child to.”
One example is the after-school bike club set up by dads at Teyfant. Children learn bike maintenance and riding skills.
“We’ve had clubs for hip-hop, street dance and cross-stitching,” says Grimshaw. “The children see these activities as a reward for good behaviour, and they give parents a role within the school.
“The parents of pupils at Teyfant are proud of our National Healthy School status.”
A happy school
“The programme is very influential. Many schools focus on targets and results, and of course these are very important. But at Teyfant, we believe that we’re also equipping children for modern life, and the choices they will face. We teach our children that life is about choices. We want them to be responsible for their own behaviour.
“Teyfant is a happy school, and people who visit us recognise that. We face big challenges, but we’re rich in smiles.”
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