Exploring pupils' perceptions regarding their RSE/PSHE lessons
- How useful do pupils find their RSE Lessons?
- What do pupils want to learn more about?
- How could RSE curriculum lessons be made more useful?
- Representation in the RSE curriculum
- Relationships in the RSE curriculum
- Realistic examples in the RSE curriculum
- What next?
In this blog, we explore pupils' feelings about safeguarding and related topics in the current curriculum. We also examine ways to improve safeguarding in the RSE curriculum. In our report, The Pupil Safeguarding Review: Safeguarding in the Curriculum, written together with The Key, we looked into:
Here we’ll also take a deeper look into pupil perceptions of value – how useful pupils found their RSE/PSHE lessons. Exploring what different groups of pupils reported wanting to learn more about by looking at some of their open answers.
How useful do pupils find their RSE lessons?
In our most recent report, The Pupil Safeguarding Review: Safeguarding in the Curriculum, we found that the older pupils are, the less likely they were to report finding RSE/PSHE lessons useful. Only 49% of secondary pupils found their RSE/PHSE lessons useful. A stark contrast with 83% of primary pupils who said their RSE/PSHE lessons were useful.
How useful are your lessons about relationships, safety and how to behave?
In their commentary, The Key discusses that, as pupils progress through school, exams increasingly become the focus of their school life. This is useful to take into consideration when trying to explain why as they get older, pupils seem to view RSE/PSHE lessons to be less useful. Pupils may see PSHE and RSE lessons as not contributing to the end goal of passing exams. Older pupils are also more likely to access information about these topics elsewhere.
What do pupils want to learn more about?
The top 3 topics that pupils wanted to learn more about differed by phase. Primary-aged pupils ranked being safe, mental health and wellbeing, and being respectful as the topic they most wanted to learn about.
would you like to learn more about any of these topics?
For secondary, being safe and respectful were less of a priority. Secondary pupils were most interested in learning more about mental health and wellbeing, intimate relationships, and relationships with friends.
would you like to learn more about any of these topics?
Notably, 32% of secondary pupils reported that none of these topics were of relevance to them. This suggests that as secondary pupils progress in their education, they see RSE/PSHE lessons as less useful. We took the topics for these questions from government guidance on what primary and secondary schools should teach. We referred to the RSE curriculum and the national PSHE curriculum guidance for this information.
To see how pupils’ perceptions differed through various lenses, such as year groups, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation, take a look at our full report.
How could RSE curriculum lessons be made more useful? (Pupils' perspectives)
In The Pupil Safeguarding Review, we asked pupils to share, in their own words, how lessons could be made more useful.
HOW COULD WE MAKE THESE LESSONS MORE USEFUL?
Some topics, such as life lessons and realistic examples, came up a lot, regardless of the pupils’ phase or demographics. Pupils from different age and orientation groups place more emphasis on certain topics, such as diverse representation.
Representation in the RSE curriculum
Pupils who identified as having a sexual orientation other than heterosexual were more likely to discuss desires for greater representation of all groups of pupils within society. Some comments about representation in lessons included:
Relationships in the RSE Curriculum
In the open-answer responses, pupils regularly mentioned relationships when we asked them how to make RSE/PSHE lessons more useful. Pupils across genders referred to understanding how to identify and respond to unsafe behaviours in their own or others' relationships. Additionally, pupils with sexual orientations other than heterosexual (straight) were eager to have all types of relationships included in the curriculum and lessons.
Realistic examples in the RSE curriculum
One of the themes that stood out from the open answers was the interest in more “realistic examples”. Pupils want to see this being included in the delivery of RSE/PSHE lessons.
Other key themes in pupils’ responses
In our report, we explore other common themes from pupils' open-answer responses. Themes such as lesson engagement, mental health, and life lessons. We look at these through multiple lenses, exploring differences in comments and suggestions by demographic details.
In the "Safeguarding in the Curriculum" report, The Key offer commentary on how staff could improve the usefulness of lessons by developing the RSE/PSHE curriculum. They also highlight resources that they feel will support school leaders in delivering high-quality lessons.
Planning lessons with pedagogy in mind
Making lessons more useful for secondary pupils
Run your own Pupil Safeguarding Survey
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