PSHCE: Our Prevent Strategy
At Cardinal Heenan, we are immensely proud of our PSHCE programme and of our pupils-run Prevent Strategy. We met with Year 10 pupils, Matthew, Daniel and Conor early in the Autumn 2015 to find out what they wanted to cover in PSHCE this year, and they told us – and in no uncertain terms.
It was not to be more of the usual – the drink, the drugs, the sex, the bullying - though they dutifully acknowledged the worth of these. No, what they were worried about, what they wanted to discuss, what they felt they needed better informing about was the current state of terror in the world, with particular reference to ISIS. This was not being discussed at home, and television and media coverage of terror events either went straight over their heads or simply frightened them. They could see its importance but they couldn’t access a full understanding of it.
Right, we said, we can cover that; we can do something for you. “No!!” they replied. “We’d like to take charge of this. We’ll do the research, we’ll plan the lessons and then we’ll deliver them. You’re there to advise but we’re in the driving seat.”
And then they looked at us.
It was a heartening if slightly alarming moment when we had to put our money where our mouths were. We had asked after all.
There were seven boys in the end – two in Year 10 and two in Year 11, as well as Matthew, Daniel and Conor – who were particularly keen to have a go at this. They were bright, curious, questioning young people, and they approached the task with real gusto. They quickly decided that they wanted to deliver the PSHCE Prevent lessons to Year 7 pupils.
Our role, as teachers, was very much that of consultants. We met with the group regularly. They had loads of ideas, in terms of what they wanted to cover and how they thought it might best be delivered. What was particularly heartening was their realisation that much of the current media coverage of ISIS terrorism and atrocities demonised the Muslim faith and Muslims in general, and they were particularly determined to counteract this tendency. So they threw a wider net over radicalisation, looking at persons recently highlighted in the news, but also at figures such as Timothy McVey and David Copeland who they found very interesting.
By Christmas, the impressive programme was finalised. There were maps showing where Syria was; there were exercises on prejudice and stereotyping; there were key terms and vocabulary simply explained; there was carefully-selected, powerful footage taken from the Internet. They even worked out for themselves - and without any nudging from us - what success criteria they could use to measure the effectiveness of their teaching.
Year 7 loved their Prevent PSHCE lessons, and the feedback we received was a delight. They clearly enjoyed being taught by people closer to their age and were far more prepared to open up with observations and questions than they might have been with their adult teachers. The Year 7s obviously felt unconstrained, liberated, involved in discussing something that gripped them with their peers.
We filmed the sessions as they took place so that we would have some record of the event (OFSTED, who turned up a month later, were most impressed with this and commented on it favourably in their report).
We even approached Paul Greenall, Partnership Director for the Liverpool Archdiocese, to come in and to quiz the boys about what they had done, the process and the product. And he was so impressed by them that he has asked them to speak at a conference on the subject!
Paul Capstick and Suzanne Miller
Conor works with two Year 7 pupils
Matthew and a Year 9 helper present Prevent PSHCE to Year 7
Year 7s enjoy Conor's Prevent PSHCE lesson
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