An interview with Mr Lynch, Head of Mental Health & Wellbeing, and Mrs Rowe, Wellbeing Officer, about how RST’s progressive ‘The Whole Me Programme’ is reshaping traditional PSHE.
What is the ‘The Whole Me Programme’?
The ‘Whole’ Programme was introduced in 2021 and has replaced more traditional methods of teaching PSHE (Physical, Social, Health Education) here at Rugby School Thailand. In its new form, the pathway is taught in a variety of ways including lessons, drop-down days, dedicated tutorials, assemblies and specific events, including International Women’s Day, National Careers Week, Rainbow Day, Anti Bullying Week and Black History Month (to name just a few).
The aim has been to develop a more progressive and modern programme that meets the students where they are in their lives. We want to add value to their progress through inclusive experiences and discussions that sit within academic, social and pastoral areas of School life.
A ‘Whole Me’ graduate will have had exposure to a wide array of learning opportunities, experiences and citizenship opportunities, and feel well-equipped for challenges of real life.
Why was it important to create this programme in place of PSHE?
As Designated Safeguarding Leads, we wanted to create a programme that not only offered the usual PSHE curriculum but also incorporated a much-needed ‘covid recovery plan’. The students have endured an unusually challenging period of time through this pandemic, so we wanted something that actively approached wellbeing, self-awareness and personal development, as well as a global perspective on the challenges faced.
How does it differ from PSHE?
‘The Whole Me Programme’ offers more than traditional PSHE. The curriculum has been created through a mixture of inquiry, conceptual and traditional based learning approaches. We want to provide students with an informed and sound understanding of their role as active global citizens and to empower them with knowledge and understanding, and a voice.
One of the key components of the programme has been to embed the mission, vision and values of the School within it. The roots of the programme come from our ethos – The Whole Person, The Whole Point – in which we commit to a holistic ‘whole person’ education. ‘The Whole Me Programme’ connects to our learner profiles, as well as major themes within RST’s school system such as safeguarding, KCSiE 2021, leadership and agency. It also offers a revised community approach to RSE (Relationship and Sex Education). The programme is bespoke to RST students.
In what ways does it integrate our learner profiles?
We’ve strategically linked the programme to the RST learner profile characteristics so students can consider personal and societal issues with resilience, the ability to think critically, adopt global perspectives and use reflective practice. This awareness will help them to make safe and informed decisions now and in the future.
The planning of a ‘Whole Me’ lesson will start with a learning objective that is heavily linked to a profile attribute, such as critical thinking or reflective practice. This will then be connected to a concept or inquiry, led by a guiding question, for example reflective practice: “How has this unit benefited me and what would I like to know more about?”. In RSE, for example, by using reflective worksheets at the end of each unit, students have been able to evaluate their knowledge and understanding of key topics and influence what they learn about in more depth.
The programme is very student-centered, which is part of its appeal. We enable students to explore their understanding further, whilst developing agency in their learning. This agency is a fundamental part of our learner profile, and the ‘Whole Me’ underpins this. It embeds life skills and the social and emotional aspects to learning, such as problem-solving, being realistic and empathy, into the planning process. Our ultimate aim is to ensure we provide a purposeful learning journey at every stage, with cohesion, consistency and a collective vision.
Can you tell us a bit about ‘The Whole Me Forward Programme’?
The Whole Me Forward Programme is a careers-related pathway that delivers students with career guidance and enables them to acquire the skills, knowledge and attitudes to manage their learning, aspirations and career progression. We want to ensure every learner can reach their full potential beyond School. The programme enables specialists, tutors and support staff to work with students at an early stage, empowering them to be forward-thinking with their ultimate career goals. This provision currently begins in F Block (Year 9) but is soon going to be introduced to Years 7 & 8 in the Prep School.
What has the response been to ‘The Whole Me Programme’ so far?
We’ve had lots of very positive feedback from students, teachers and parents. The Whole Me Programme essentially enhances the traditional style of teaching PSHE and tailors it to RST, giving our students a cohesive framework for all areas of their learning. We’re really excited to see it all continue to develop further. Our next step is to create a whole School steering team with the respective leads from each stage. We hope, in time, that the programme will also create student leadership opportunities, parent participation and valuable workshops for all.