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Passionate about helping others regardless of age...

Social emotional learning (SEL) is a methodology that helps students of all ages to better comprehend their emotions, to feel those emotions fully, and demonstrate empathy for others.

My role as a School Teacher of Physical Education amongst many things is to also help facilitate
and promote the importance of Physical health and mental wellbeing.
It is important that the starting point for health and wellbeing education should be a focus on enabling clients to make well-informed, positive choices for themselves. In teaching should build on primary content and should introduce new content to older pupils at appropriate points. This should enable pupils to understand how their bodies are changing, how they are feeling and why, to further develop the language that they use to talk about their bodies, health and emotions and to understand why terms associated with mental and physical health difficulties should not be used pejoratively. This knowledge should enable pupils to understand where normal variations in emotions and physical complaints end and health and wellbeing issues begin.

Teaching about the impact of puberty, which will have started in primary school, should continue in secondary school, so that pupils are able to understand the physical and emotional changes, which take place at this time and their impact on their wider health and wellbeing.

Emphasis should continue to be given to steps pupils can take to protect and support their own health and wellbeing. They should know that there is a relationship between good physical health and good mental wellbeing and that this can also influence their ability to learn. Teachers should cover self-care, the benefits of physical activity and time spent outdoors. This should be linked to information on the benefits of sufficient sleep, good nutrition and strategies for building resilience.

Pupils should know the contribution that hobbies, interests and participation in their own communities can make to overall wellbeing. They should understand that humans are social beings and that outward-facing activity, especially that with a service focus (for example, work, volunteering and participation in organisations such as the scouts or the girl guiding movements, the National Citizen Service or the Duke of Edinburgh Award) are beneficial for wellbeing. This can also contribute to the development of the attributes for a happy and successful adult life. Pupils should be supported to recognise what makes them feel lonely. Self-focused or isolating lifestyle choices can lead to unhappiness and being disconnected from society for those who have greater need for companionship and relationships.

Pupils should also be taught about problems and challenges. This should include factual information about the prevalence and characteristics of more serious mental and physical health conditions, drugs, alcohol and information about effective interventions. Schools may also choose to teach about issues such as eating disorders [footnote 1].

Teachers should be aware of common ‘adverse childhood experiences’ (such as family breakdown, bereavement and exposure to domestic violence) and when and how these may be affecting any of their pupils and so may be influencing how they experience these subjects. The impact of time spent online, the positive aspects of online support and negotiating social media, including online forums and gaming, should also be included. Teachers should understand that pupils who have experienced problems at home may depend more on schools for support.

Pupils should be taught how to judge when they, or someone they know, needs support and where they can seek help if they have concerns. This should include details on which adults in school (e.g. school nurses), and externally can help.

Schools should continue to develop knowledge on topics specified for primary as required and in addition cover the following content by the end of secondary:

Mental wellbeing

You should know:

  • how to talk about their emotions accurately and sensitively, using appropriate vocabulary

  • that happiness is linked to being connected to others

  • how to recognise the early signs of mental wellbeing concerns

  • common types of mental ill health (e.g. anxiety and depression)

  • how to critically evaluate when something they do or are involved in has a positive or negative effect on their own or others’ mental health

  • the benefits and importance of physical exercise, time outdoors, community participation and voluntary and service-based activities on mental wellbeing and happiness

Internet safety and harms

You should know:

  • the similarities and differences between the online world and the physical world, including: the impact of unhealthy or obsessive comparison with others online (including through setting unrealistic expectations for body image), how people may curate a specific image of their life online, over-reliance on online relationships including social media, the risks related to online gambling including the accumulation of debt, how advertising and information is targeted at them and how to be a discerning consumer of information online

  • how to identify harmful behaviours online (including bullying, abuse or harassment) and how to report, or find support, if they have been affected by those behaviours

Physical health and fitness

You should know:

  • the positive associations between physical activity and promotion of mental wellbeing, including as an approach to combat stress

  • the characteristics and evidence of what constitutes a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight, including the links between an inactive lifestyle and ill health, including cancer and cardio-vascular ill-health

  • about the science relating to blood, organ and stem cell donation

Healthy eating

You should know:

  • how to maintain healthy eating and the links between a poor diet and health risks, including tooth decay and cancer

Drugs, alcohol and tobacco

You should know:

  • the facts about legal and illegal drugs and their associated risks, including the link between drug use, and the associated risks, including the link to serious mental health conditions

  • the law relating to the supply and possession of illegal substances

  • the physical and psychological risks associated with alcohol consumption and what constitutes low risk alcohol consumption in adulthood

  • the physical and psychological consequences of addiction, including alcohol dependency

  • awareness of the dangers of drugs which are prescribed but still present serious health risks

  • the facts about the harms from smoking tobacco (particularly the link to lung cancer), the benefits of quitting and how to access support to do so

Health and prevention

You should know:

  • about personal hygiene, germs including bacteria, viruses, how they are spread, treatment and prevention of infection, and about antibiotics

  • about dental health and the benefits of good oral hygiene and dental flossing, including healthy eating and regular check-ups at the dentist

  • (late secondary) the benefits of regular self-examination and screening

  • the facts and science relating to immunisation and vaccination

  • the importance of sufficient good quality sleep for good health and how a lack of sleep can affect weight, mood and ability to learn

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