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Reach for the stars

With a subject such as health and social care, it's easy to get bogged down in case studies that don't reach the pupils or stimulate them. I wanted to motivate my pupils and get them genuinely interested in producing health action plans. These are plans used to support individuals to change their unhealthy lifestyles, an issue pupils are required to think about as part of the course. But it was going to be no easy task in an 8.50am lesson.

I needed a resource to enthuse the pupils on a BTEC First Diploma in health and social care course. We had to reinforce information given in a theory lesson and I wanted to get all the 16-year-old pupils involved.

To test out what had been learnt, I thought I would focus on someone in the news. Originally I thought of using Elvis Presley (and have done so since) but realised after talking to a colleague that Amy Winehouse, the troubled soul and jazz singer, would be more contemporary. I was worried that there would be too much chat about issues around Amy, but then recognised that this was the whole point.

Amy Winehouse is infamous and everyone has a view about her and her exploits. Even the less vocal pupils were able to contribute and wanted to do so. With someone so well known, we were able to go deeply into her alleged issues, including drug addiction and a series of eating disorders, and I was surprised at how conservative the pupils were in their responses.

I created tables - with headings such as "issues identified" and "how these can be helped" - for the pupils to channel their thoughts and gather the information required. They could then take away this template and use the data for their homework.

To extend the scheme, teachers can get the pupils to look at other figures in the celebrity world, writing a summary of their lifestyle and challenging others to produce appropriate action plans

Nicola Maxfield teaches health and social care at Alton College in Hampshire.

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