Millie Wilde, Head of Health and Social Care at Saffron Walden County High School
At County High the Cambridge National Health and Social Care course begins in Year 9 and is taught over three years. In this blog I share some of my strategies and suggestions for teaching students in Year 9.
I always enjoy teaching Year 9. It is a chance to explore all the aspects of Health and Social Care that are so valuable and interesting without the pressure of external assessment.
It’s exciting to be able to respond to what is happening in the world and bring it into the classroom and discuss and engage students with topical news. It’s an opportunity to explore and build ideas, develop skills and interests and allow students to develop the maturity they will need to understand and write good analytical and evaluative work once they are in KS4. It’s also an opportunity to get to know the individual needs of students, to better prepare them for the demands of controlled assessment.
Having the year to develop makes them more able students once they are faced with the rigorous requirements of coursework and exams. They are more quick and perceptive, empathetic and capable.
Here at County High we have written a scheme of work that provides a foundation year which can be adapted to different team members but has a clearly defined set of skills and topic areas that students need to follow.
These include some analytical tools such as PILES (physical, intellectual, language, emotional and social aspects of development), Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (sometimes call Maslow’s pyramid of needs), and important standards such as care values to help students establish the ability to objectively assess people’s situations in specific care settings.
Introducing care values also allows us to introduce careers and roles in a variety of settings. We also use this as an opportunity to invite external speakers whose experience and examples of care values in practice really engages the students.
Just before Christmas we arranged for an online meeting with the volunteers from the local foodbank who were able to give a good perspective on the needs of the people using the foodbank and their experiences as volunteers. This was a moving session and we will use them again with future cohorts.
So far, since September students have discussed self-concept and self-esteem and have made self-concept trees. They have discussed primary and secondary socialisation, learned how to use Maslow’s pyramid and applied it to a case study looking at the difficulties refugees face.
In a more extended exercise they watched an episode of Rich Family, Poor Family which we paused frequently so that students could ask questions and discuss ideas. During this process they completed a worksheet applying the experiences of the families in the programme to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. We use this as an assessment opportunity that gives us a good idea of progress and identifies where students might have gaps in their knowledge and understanding.
It really highlighted how well they were able to assess and understand the impact of difficult life events with empathy and make practical suggestions to help. The end of topic test has also allowed us to understand any specific difficulties students have had which we can respond to and support.
We make really good use of videos and TV programmes, sometimes suggested by the students themselves. It is great to be able to justify watching more than a 5-minute clip to stimulate discussion. We have a set of skills and underpinning knowledge which we build into all activities so we are preparing them for later study. This gives us the flexibility to change resource material but still meet the developmental progress we have planned, as outlined below:
We have devised our own scheme of work, skills sheet, assessment strategy and a progress chart, and you can see examples in our resources document. We share these with students – remember these are Year 9 and in KS3, so we don’t use the assessment from the specification for the qualification.
The progression plan is now under review as we will be starting the new Cambridge National J835 in September 2022, but the basic structure will stay the same. Having an end view in mind gives the work we prepare a clear focus. It also allows us an opportunity for stretch and challenge, as well as encouraging students to think of taking Health and Social Care at KS5!
We are careful not to repeat the case studies we use across the curriculum, but it’s easy to find parallel examples to enrich their experience and understanding. For students who do not go on to KS5, the course helps to develop cultural capital and mature citizens of modern Britain. They learn to listen to each other and recognise others’ needs. It challenges their beliefs and uncovers their fears which can be discussed and understood. It doesn’t take long before they are challenging parents over comments they hear at home, and we have learned to be diplomatic in not criticising entrenched views but encouraging research and evidence-based thinking!
Students stop beginning discussions with “this might be a silly question but….” They consider everything open to discussion, and often give opportunities for us to change what we have planned so we can react to their questions. This is such a rewarding pleasure for a teacher, to have the freedom to actually respond to student interests.
I always look forward to the moment in the year when they start analysing the quality of their interactions with health and education practitioners, seeing themselves as active participants. Their comments are further evidence of their depth of understanding.
The progress students make includes academic skills, writing, presenting, watching and analysing, focus and concentration.
It also includes a growing depth of understanding, empathy, the ability to question what they have been told based on where it comes from and their own and others’ rights. There are links across their curriculum which lead to a greater synoptic understanding across all their subjects. For example:
Parents are always very positive about the progress students make, they are interested and supportive. They appreciate the opportunity for interesting discussions at home sparked by interviews, shared viewing and homework research projects. They also appreciate the careers discussion that can support future planning and encourage aspiration. Students grow in self-esteem and self-confidence and the best of all is that they really enjoy it.
If you have any comments or questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @OCR_Health. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive information about resources and support.
Millie is Subject Leader for Health and Social Care at Saffron Walden County High School and lives locally. She has been teaching for 30 years and still really enjoys the buzz of the classroom. She is responsible for the KS3, 4 and 5 Health and Social Care courses, the team delivers the Cambridge National and the Technical Extended Certificate and Diploma. She is also Lead Sixth Form Tutor with particular responsibility for offering guidance and support for a wide range of flexible progression routes for students, and training for staff to enable them to continue to work effectively with a changing cohort of students across all subjects. She is very happy to network with other teachers to share ideas and discuss approaches to topics and tasks as well as just swap teaching stories!