Learning for Life is a course taken by Shrewsbury students that covers essential topics that are especially important for all students as they go through huge physical, emotional and psychological changes on their way to adulthood. The course helps students contextualise and explain these challenges in a safe and welcoming forum with professionals such as Mr Ibrahim Brookes and Ms Cat Garnett.
Learning for Life or Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) in the UK, focuses on the core subjects of health and wellbeing, relationships and living in the Wider World (Global Citizenship), as well as careers and religious education. Key concepts in each topic are presented repeatedly throughout the curriculum, but with deepening layers of complexity, as students move through the Junior School to the Senior School. The process ensures that the topics are safe, age-appropriate and developmental.
On a recent visit to a Learning for Life class, we visited a Year 8 group talking about puberty and the situations and changes this brings to young adults. For many students, this would be the first time they have had these discussions so, according to Mr Brookes, watching students come to terms with the language and content of Learning for Life is all part of the job.
“We do not aim to shock. We aim to take away the stigma attached to talking about our bodies and issues to do with sexuality, sex, gender and hormonal changes and create a forum where students feel comfortable to discuss things they may be curious about,” he said.
“Learning for Life at Shrewsbury is also about helping students cope with stress and manage their wellbeing. We put a lot of focus into discussing mental health as well as physical health as they are interconnected”.
Both Mr Brookes and Head of Department, Ms Garnett have special training that allows them to impart sensitive information to adolescents as well as initiate conversations that may be difficult to do at home or in social situations with their peers.
Both teachers feel that the course is equally important as core subjects as it helps them with their sense of self, forming relationships, understanding consent and a raft of other social and emotional issues that become more and more important as they detach from their parents and enter society as adults.