Personal development

Personal development involves knowledge, attitudes, skills, relationships and behaviour that can be utilised in and outside the classroom. This involves being equipped with thinking processes, managing emotions, values and relationships along with a range of life skills that assist young people is coping with the challenges of everyday living. This is inclusive of their present needs and helping them in their development toward adulthood.

At John Smeaton Academy we are committed and passionate about developing our students’ Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) awareness; it is the ‘golden- thread’ woven through all curriculum areas and every aspect of academy life. Within the specific areas we aim to:

  • Spirituality – provide students with an opportunity to reflect upon their place in the world whilst also acknowledging and respecting other people’s faiths, feelings and values.
  • Moral – ensure that our students understand the difference between right and wrong whilst also being able to debate empathetically and reasonably why other people’s moral and ethical standpoints may be different to their own.
  • Social – provide students with opportunities to discuss and engage in wide-ranging enrichment and community based initiatives with other groups of people from different socio-economic backgrounds, faiths and cultures.
  • Cultural – develop students’ awareness of the wide-ranging cultural influences that have shaped their own lives and heritage, whilst also acknowledging that there are a whole range of influences from further afield which have helped shape Britain’s history, values and place in the world. We are committed to providing our students with a variety of sporting, artistic, musical and cultural opportunities.

Throughout our broad and contemporary curriculum at John Smeaton Academy there are opportunities for students to engage with SMSC topics and discussions on a daily basis and through assembly themes. During form-time the SMSC focus of the week enables high-level debates surrounding current cultural issues in the news.

Teachers further seek to develop students’ SMSC thinking through tasks and activities that question morality, link learning to modern cultural issues and allow students to evaluate and form independent opinions alongside the subject-specific information being taught.

Additional opportunities are maximised to develop students’ experiences outside of the classroom through: topic specific trips, educational visits, guest speakers, business and workplace experiences and other relevant activities such as theatre trips, cinema experiences, opera visits and concerts.

Each curriculum area aims to provide at least one of the above experiences, directly related to a topic being studied, for each year group, each academic year.

John Smeaton Academy promotes SMSC development of our students through a variety of ways including:

  • The provision of a broad, balanced and knowledge rich curriculum. Within this, teachers strive to promote opportunities whereby students are encouraged to engage with the wider world, and consider and question their place within it.
  • The delivery of a bespoke Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) curriculum and Citizenship programme, which enables students to discuss issues that arise in situations beyond academic and vocational study.
  • A varied assembly and weekly tutorial programme through which teachers and visitors discuss topics that help students reflect upon themes that are important in the wider world today as well as addressing local, national and global current affairs
  • An extensive enrichment programme that includes sporting, academic, musical and cultural opportunities.
  • Links with the Wider Community
  • Links with a range of faith groups and local places of worship are fostered.
  • The academy supports the work of a variety of charities.
  • The academy has strong links with a wide range of businesses, employers and further / higher education providers.
  • A strong home-school agreement enables parents and teachers to work in an effective partnership to support pupils.
  • Pupils are taught to appreciate and to take responsibility for their local environment.
  • The academy participates in a wide range of competitive activities including debating, maths challenges and team and individual sports.

We are proud of our bespoke PSHE curriculum, which is embedded across curriculum subjects, as well as being explicitly taught through the tutorial programme, assemblies and Be Smart days. Students develop life skills and character attributes such as resilience, self-esteem, risk-management, team-working and critical thinking in the context of three core themes:

  • Health and wellbeing,
  • Relationships and
  • Living in the wider world (including economic wellbeing and aspects of careers education).

The curriculum covers a range of issues in depth, topics include: preventing radicalisation and extremism; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusive education; female genital mutilation; child sexual and criminal exploitation; revenge porn and youth produced sexual imagery; drug, alcohol and substance misuse; understanding the relationship between physical and mental health and how to make safe and discerning choices online. In addition, students are taught financial decision-making through enterprise initiatives. Our curriculum fully incorporates the statutory aspects of relationships, sex and health education, which is pivotal to our students developing age appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes. Our PSHE team work with a number of external agencies to ensure the PSHE provision is up to date and relevant to the students in our academy.

At John Smeaton Academy, students leave school with an understanding of the political, legal and economic functions of adult society, and with the social and moral awareness to thrive in this society. Citizenship education is about enabling students to make their own decisions and to take responsibility for their own lives and their communities. Citizenship helps students to develop self-confidence and successfully deal with significant life changes and challenges. It gives them a voice, in the life of John Smeaton Academy, in their community and in society in general. It enables them to make a positive contribution by developing the expertise and experience needed to claim their rights and understand their responsibilities and prepare them for the challenge and opportunities of adult and working life in modern Britain.

The essential elements of Citizenship Education and the core principles of Modern British values include:

Knowledge and Understanding: about topics such as laws and rules, democracy, human rights, justice, freedom and the world as a global community.

Skills and Aptitudes: expressing opinions, taking part in discussions and debates, participating in community action.

Values and Dispositions: respect for justice and democracy, openness, tolerances for others and those with different faiths and beliefs, a willingness to listen to, work with and stand up for others.

As part of our approach to British Values, we take very seriously our public sector equality duty (s.149 of the Equality Act 2010) which requires us to have due regard of the need to:

  • eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under that Act;
  • advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it;
  • foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
The rule of law
Individual liberty
Mutual respect
Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs

Parents and Carers

As a parent or carer, it is likely you will already have talked to your child about (or had to support them with) many of the topics and issues covered in PSHE and RSHE education. You may also wish to supplement their in-school learning with further discussions of your own. Sometimes PSHE and RSHE education conversations with your child will arise incidentally, for example when you are watching television or films, or through news stories or events that happen within your family. In such cases we cannot always control the stimulus for the question or conversation, only how we manage it. Other times, you may wish to initiate a conversation about a topic you feel is important to approach.

The following two documents offer guidance for parents:

Understanding Relationships, Sex and Health Education at your child’s secondary school: a guide for parents
Relationships education, relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education: frequently asked questions

If you have any questions or queries related to the personal development of students at John Smeaton Academy please do not hesitate to contact Ms Lamble, Personal Development lead at John Smeaton Academy.