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Personal Development: when a subject is more than just a lesson

Restart A Heart Day is an important focal point in the PD calendar at Bradfield, ensuring that all students are taught crucial life-saving techniques from skilled professionals

This year, we have held a number of parent / carer forums to let you our wider community know about the great work that's been going on in Personal Development (PD) at our school. We’re always keen to strengthen our provision and have really enjoyed listening to both the voices of parents and students. This blog is an opportunity to tell you a little more about what’s happening in PD, what we’ve learnt from both parent and student voice and our plans.

A subject but also more than a subject

Personal Development (PD) is integral to student success at Bradfield and beyond. It is a subject that rests within our formal curriculum, but is also much more than a subject. It drives our school ethos through our PD core values of Pride, Respect, Positive Communication and Teamwork. PD is taught as a specialist subject across all year groups, with young people receiving a one-hour curriculum entitlement. This is complemented by a focused tutor programme each morning and supported by assemblies each week. Specialist events also help make the curriculum even more engaging and relevant to students, such as the Restart A Heart Day, anti-radicalisation workshops that many of our current Year 9s, 10s and 11s have participated in.


Events linked to student personal development over the past few months:

  • Restart a Heart Day Y9
  • Respect project involving 28 students, involving a residential trip to Wales.
  • Y11 visit from Olivia Blake MP promoting fundamental British values.
  • S6 foodbank collection.
  • Christmas Concert – teamworking and responsibility.
  • Senior Citizens Concert, an intergenerational event promoting community cohesion.
  • Y10 and Y11 Careers Fair, allowing students to engage with post-16 providers and the world of work.

As part of our focused tutor programme all students take part in Picture News discussions, driven by topical news stories.

Example of how news stories discussed in our focused tutor programme link to British values and Protected Characteristics

The taught Personal Development Curriculum

Our mission for Personal Development is to ensure students are well-equipped for life beyond school, with a detailed understanding of the issues young people face today and how to keep themselves safe on and off-line. We want to develop empathetic and well-rounded individuals who are responsible global citizens that can thrive in the world beyond school and make their voice heard.

PD lessons cover three core areas involving the statutory requirements of relationships, sex and health education (RSHE), Citizenship education and careers education. We deal with all age appropriately and revisit core content and themes across all key stages.

Feedback is driving the future of Personal Development at Bradfield

PD is an ever-changing area. In the taught curriculum, that means updating the curriculum to reflect the changing legal landscape, like the recent increase in the age of marriage from 16 to 18 in England or safeguarding concerns that might be raised in our city. This provides lots of scope for us to update and refresh the curriculum and respond to parent/carer voice and feedback from young people.

Putting student voice at the heart of our practice

Our taught curriculum allows students to explore how they can make happy, healthy and safe choices in life. That inevitably involves lots of structured discussion, but we want to ensure that this is backed up by a firm understanding of key issues. For example, we take the view that understanding the key facts about different types of drugs, including their legal classification, helps young people make better judgements. That knowledge is important. In a similar vein, we want students to be able to explain different protected characteristics according to the Equalities Act 2010. This knowledge helps us to truly embrace those we live and work alongside.

To help us better understand, we surveyed 338 students in Bradfield to ask whether they were encouraged to recall information that they had learnt in their previous PD lesson. Fifty-eight percent said that they did, which is positive, but the figures have allowed us to reflect and see how we can further improve.


As a response to this student feedback, we’ve now introduced new bespoke starter tasks into each lesson, allowing students to look back in a structured way. We've also rolled out new assessments this year and short end of unit quizzes. Importantly, we’re also clear that students need to know where they are on the learning journey within units of work and that’s why we are now reminding students each lesson where the learning today fits in with the wider topic.

An example of a learning journey used to encourage recall of previous learning as part of every PD lesson. This is from a unit of work in Year 11.

We’re excited about the range and breadth of opportunities and activities linked to Personal Development that our students will be able to take part in over the remainder of this school year, including Enrichment Week and Year 10 Work Experience, as well as many more extra-curricular activities, competitions and events.

Ben Miskell - Subject Lead for PD

Karen Carter - Assistant Headteacher responsible for PD across the school