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Up close and personal

The Ofsted "Framework for Inspection" requires inspectors to ask, "How well are pupils' attitudes, values and other personal qualities developed? Inspectors must judge pupils' personal development, what the school does to cultivate it, and how well pupils mature during their time in school."

They must also evaluate and report on pupils' attendance, punctuality, attitudes and behaviour, and on "other aspects of personal development, including spiritual, moral, social and cultural development".

In your pastoral role, you have probably spent a lot of time this year taking the register, checking planners, dealing with absence notes, while your pupils chat in the background. My guess is that unless you are helping deliver a structured pastoralPSHE citizenship programme, you haven't necessarily given "other aspects of personal development" the attention they deserve.

It can be difficult to think of subjects for discussion. It helps if you're prepared for the kinds of questions pupils will ask you, or that they ought to be thinking about. The questions gathered here will give you starting points, and make it easier to support your pupils in becoming thoughtful, independent learners, active members of the school community, and, eventually, interesting people. They might just impress Ofsted too.

Harry Dodds


* What's my nationality? What does that mean?

* What makes a good friend? What do I value in my friends? What makes me a good friend?

* What groups do I belong to? What do I get out of belonging to a group? What do I give back to the group?

* What's the difference between a group and a community? To what communities do I belong?

* Can I work within a group? What skills do I need?

* How do I make my opinions heard?

* What kind of world do I want to live in? How can I help make my ideas into reality?

* What makes me different? My gender? Size, shape, height? The things I like or dislike? What am I good at, and what are my weaker areas?

* How do others see me? How do I see others?

* Do the choices I make define who I am? Do I let anyone else influence my choices? Do my choices damage the environment? Are they healthy choices?

* What does my body language say about me? Can I read the body language of others?

* Does what I wear make a difference to the way others see me? Do I make decisions about others based solely on the way they look?

* Do good manners count for anything? What are good manners? Do they make the world a better place?

* Can I express my feelings clearly? Can I understand other people's feelings?


* What is "peer pressure"? Is it difficult to handle? How can I be sure that I am really making up my own mind?

* Who wants to influence me, and why? How do others try to persuade me?

* What are the limits on the ways I behave, on the things I do, on the opinions I have? How are they controlled? What part do rules, laws and regulations play in my life? Who makes them? Can I influence the way they're written?

* What do I know - real, factual knowledge - about drugs, alcohol, solvents, tobacco? Will knowing more affect the choices I might make about using them? What do I do if I know that a friend is involved in using any of them? Who will help me if I have a problem, or if I know someone else who has?

* Are there situations where it's right to use violence? Are there non-violent ways to solve arguments?

* How can I be useful in an emergency? Should I learn first aid? Who can teach me?

* Are parents reasonable people? Why are they so protective?

* I don't want to be a parent at my age - what do I need to know, and who will give me the best advice?

* What does "assertiveness" mean? How can I become assertive? What difference will it make to my life?

* What's it like to lose someone close to me? How can I help a friend who loses someone?


* Do children have rights? If you have rights, does that mean that you also have responsibilities? What does the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child say? What does it mean for me? What might it mean for children in other countries?

* What rights do I gain as I grow older?

* Does anything I do infringe on other people's rights?

* What rights does my school give or do for me? What responsibilities do I have to my school? What obligations do I have to myself, to my friends, to my family, to other people?

* Am I responsible for my own diet and lifestyle? Who's responsible for my health? What will be the consequences of the choices I make?

* What does discrimination mean? Will I become a victim of discrimination if I wear a hooded top? Do I know anyone who is discriminated against? Is that fair? What am I doing about it?

* What does "equality of opportunity" mean for me?

* Can I take part in the democratic process even if I'm too young to vote? Can I take responsibility for the way my community works?

* Do I have democratic rights in my school? How does our school council work? Can I become involved?

* What are my rights if I'm arrested?

* If I talk to the school nurse in confidence, do my parents have the right to be told?


* Who is in control of the choices I make? Sometimes I do what my parents want, sometimes I just go along with my mates. How do I know that I am really making my own choices and not just going with the crowd?

* How can I work out the risks and consequences of my choices? Would a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis help me make better choices?

* Who can I talk to about the choices I want to make?

* Should I let my parents make choices for me?

* I want to become a vegetarian, but need advice about balancing my diet.

Where can I find information?

* What is Fair Trade all about? Shouldn't we be buying British food?

* I want a part-time job. How many hours can I work and what should I be paid?

* I want a designer leather jacket but I can't afford it. Is it OK to buy a fake from my friend's mate?

* I can't make many choices about my life because I find it difficult to say what I want. Would assertiveness training help me? Where can I be trained?

* After GCSE I can either go to work with my uncle, or I can stay on in the sixth form. How do I decide what's best?

* I come from a very religious family but I want to make my own choices about my beliefs. Who can help me explain this to them?

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