Minerva Learning Trust
29th March 2022

Giving our students what is necessary for life

This month’s HSS Blog comes from Mr Lacey who writes about ‘personal development’ at HSS. 

One of my education heroes is a nun called St Julie of Billiart (1751 – 1816). She said the following about education - ‘Give them what is necessary for life’. And Ofsted share St Julie’s view that schools should do more than deliver exam results; when they inspect schools they also focus on the ‘personal development’ of all students. Staff at High Storrs agree with both St Julie and Ofsted – we think personal development is an important part of what we teach in school.

But what does this term ‘personal development’ mean? Personal development in schools includes character education; teaching of British values; social, moral, spiritual and cultural development (or SMSC); relationships and sex education; enrichment (e.g. clubs and trips) and careers education. That is quite a lot! Plus, our Minerva Trust Policy finishes with these lines:

‘Students will be honourable and driven to achieve ….. they will be humble in success and dignified in defeat, but they will never give up.’

I think you will agree that is quite an ambition! But an important ambition for our schools.

Some of this learning happens in PSHE lessons and RPE (religion, philosophy & ethics) lessons. But personal development is also in just about every other lesson or activity in school. It is taught in technology lessons where students are costing up materials (understanding finances), researching the origins of jazz in music lessons (cultural development), learning about the complexities of the British Empire in history lessons (opportunities to debate difficult issues), and the ethics of stem cell research and gene therapy in science lessons (moral development). Our careers and employability curriculum aims to broaden students’ horizons, and our extracurricular programme of clubs gives students opportunities to develop knowledge and skills outside the classroom. Even our Attitude to Learning grades are written to encourage students to develop their determination, ability to listen and to learn from mistakes (character education). Finally, our end of term celebrations are all about saying ‘well done’ to students who have shown attributes we want young people to develop such as independence, community spirit, kindness.

As we all know, working hard to achieve the best outcomes in examinations does matter, but our commitment to personal development (or education for life) means that this will never be all that we do at High Storrs.