Life Skills

Patcham High School is unusual and very fortunate, to have its own team of dedicated teachers in Life Skills plus designated time on the time table. It is a compulsory subject for all students throughout their 5 years here.

Results are ever improving with 67% of students gaining A*-C in Citizenship, with 20% achieving A and A* grades.

Encompassing a variety of topics, we aim to equip students, whilst they are still at school and prepare them for their future as adults.

Personal well-being helps young people embrace change, feel positive about who they are and enjoy healthy, safe, responsible and fulfilled lives. Students explore similarities and differences between people and discuss social and moral dilemmas; exploring the complexity of opinions and clarifying their own values and attitudes.

Education for economic well-being is concerned with equipping students with the knowledge, skills and attributes to make the most of rapidly changing opportunities in learning and work.

Citizenship and Philosophy encourages young people to take an interest in both  topical and controversial issues and engage in discussion and debate.  The course covers: rights and responsibilities, duties and freedoms, laws and justice, and democratic institutions.  Topics also includes the global economy and environment plus the UK’s media and power.


  • Personal identities
  • Healthy life-styles
  • Rights and responsibilities and the law
  • Philosophy and ethics
  • Risk management and personal safety
  • Relationships and sexual health
  • Enterprise and economy
  • Career development
  • Personal finances
  • Democracy and justice
  • The environment and global equalities
  • Cultural and religious diversity

Life Skills aims to build on the success of the past few years and develop key areas such as support services, risk management, health and well being etc..   In a constantly changing domain with new developments it is essential that a frequently trained and dedicated team is in place. The Safe and Well at School Survey 2010 results offer statistical evidence that the provision and delivery at Patcham High is successful, useful and effective. Students here are more likely to be safe, less likely to put themselves into risky situations, and know about local help and advice, feel comfortable about using support services.

Life Skills FAQ’s

We are very proud that Patcham High’s Life Skills programme is unique to us. We believe this subject provides all our students with the opportunity to develop key transferable skills to help them become respectful, accepting, well-informed, critical and active members of society. However, we also understand that as it is unique to us, as parents you often have questions about our subject area which may not have for other departments in the school. Please use this FAQ page to answer some of those questions.


“Life Skills is important as it teaches you how to be safe, how to handle money, the way other people think and our own opinions, emotions, how to respect people and the environment. It teaches us about the world around us and prepares us for when we leave school. I enjoy coming to every Life Skills lesson.”

“You’ve changed our Sunday lunch. Every week we sit down and discuss what you have been learning in philosophy as a family. It’s great, all those big questions. Can I come to your lessons?” Parent

“In Life Skills I’ve learnt skills will be useful for when I leave school. It has affected my way of thinking.” Jessie


GCSE Citizenship

All year 10 students at Patcham take a GCSE short course in Citizenship in Life Skills.
Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, has given recognition to some of our students campaigns, saying: “This is a wonderful example of how young people can engage with their local community to bring about change for the better.”


Key Stage 3

As a department, we aim to support the social and emotional development of all students at Patcham High by providing them with the space and skills to discuss issues facing them as young people and further in the future. We also hold a pastoral role within the school to ensure our students feel supported and safe when dealing with these issues. As a result of this, we try to stick to the curriculum map as much as possible but sometimes there is a need for us to drop the scheme of work and respond immediately to the experiences of our students. For example, we have covered lessons on self-harm in response to an increase of cases in a year group as well as the Paris attacks and the EU referendum. When Life Skills need to address sensitive issues with our year 7 and 8 students in response to incidences concerning the pastoral care of our students, parents will be contacted.

Another time when the schemes of work need to be dropped is if a class is taken by an older year group. As part of their GCSE in Citizenship, our year 10 and 11 students often choose to teach a younger year group about an issue they are campaigning to change. Lessons taken by year 11 students this year include the impact of food waste in the UK, helping refugees, discrimination, bullying and homelessness. Key Stage 3 students always respond positively to being taught by their peers and it is something we actively encourage our older students to participate in.

Life Skills in Key Stage 3 is very diverse and varied as we cover PSHE, RE and Citizenship. For the curriculum map which outlines all the topics and lessons covered across Key Stage 3, please see the curriculum map link but here is a rough outline of some of the learning which takes place.

Click here to see the curriculum map.


Friendship and Anti-bullying

To celebrate Anti Bullying Week students in year 7 take part in activities that look at how to resolve conflict peacefully and how to stay safe. We encourage students to develop empathy and provide them the skills necessary to build positive relationships with others. Year 7 also learn about the rights they have as a child and how the actions of adults and young people should always be to protect and respect those rights. We find these rights very beneficial to refer to during conflict resolution and other topics covered throughout their learning journey. To reinforce these messages, year 7 receive a visit from Allsorts, a support group for LGBTU young people in Brighton and Hove who explain the importance of accepting individuality and using positive, non-discriminatory language in school.

Personal Safety

All year 7 classes learn about Risk Management and to show their understanding, pupils have make board games for younger students to play to help the learn how to assess positive and negative risks. The students also have a visit from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to talk to the young students about personal safety. This autumn the year 7 cohort also watched a performance organised by Sussex Safer Roads which addressed road and pedestrian safety. As part of this topic and to reinforce messages of safety from computing lessons, students also learn about E-safety, specifically how to use social media safely and how to make their accounts private.

Puberty and Coming of Age

During this topic year 7 students learn about the physical and emotional changes which take place during puberty. They will also learn about a number of religious and cultural coming of age ceremonies which take place around the world. As part of this, we are advised by Brighton and Hove council to address the issue of Female Genitalia Mutilation. The issue is addressed very sensitively by constantly referring back to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the law, and all parents are informed before the lesson takes place.



Crime and Responsibility

East Sussex Fire and Rescue come in to year 8 Life Skills lessons talking about the dangers of playing with fire and how to stay safe. Many students enjoyed the thought provoking issues and applied their knowledge and understanding of these to a play called The Stones which is used as a stimulus to approach crime and responsibility for young people.

Discrimination and Equality

The Year 8 pupils learn about discrimination and prejudice.  Topics included racism, stereotyping, and ethnic minority groups.  The pupils were able to present their learning and independent research on a topics that had inspired them. In addition, as part of the RE syllabus, students study Islam and work towards creating a leaflet designed to educate people about the religion in order to prevent Islamophobia in our community and society. To further reinforce these messages, year 8 students are visited by Allsorts again who build on the workshop run in year 7.


Students begin to gain an understanding of some the causes and consequences of war. In particular we focus on the experience of children during times of conflict and the year 8 students create a project designed to encourage people to support charities who help children who have been affected by war. Many students choose to promote War Child which aims to prevent and support child soldiers, Help Refugees or Unicef who are the UN’s charity and work towards provided safety, schooling, support and other necessities to children affected by conflict.

Lessons on Homelessness

During year 8 students learn about homelessness as part of their topic on Ethics. Using a lesson designed by Sue Philips ‘it aims to change the attitude of the pupils so that they are moved to take action in their own lives’.

Through creating a series of experiences which can take pupils into  feelings about injustice, deprivation, suffering and most importantly the poverty trap students are able to connect to those that find themselves in difficult situations.

The lesson starts with rubbish; students make their own shelter and stay in it for the remainder of the lesson on the floor. They then listen to stories reading of grubby worksheets, take part in attitude continuums and reflect on their learning by completing a quadrant.

The lesson culminates in the students making their own sign, designed to evoke empathy in passers by.

Puberty, Healthy Relationships and Child Sexual Exploitation

For this topic, year 8 students concentrate on how puberty links to the development of new relationships. The year group receive lessons on Child Sexual Exploitation and watch a theatre in education programme, Chelsea’s Choice. The play highlights the dangers, signs and consequences of CSE and grooming. We use the play as a way to reiterate messages on how to stay safe online and in person by raising awareness of issues such as sexting, healthy relationships, sharing personal information and photos online. Year 8 students are encouraged to seek help and advice about themselves or friends by being told about local and national services available to support young people. For these, please see the links page on the website.


Drugs and Alcohol

To support their learning on alcohol and how it affects not only the body,  but also includes our families, relationships, work /study and our perception of risk. Students in year 9 classes practise Life-saving Skills.  Knowing the Recovery Position can be of utmost importance in an emergency if someone has passed-out due to alcohol.


Beginning in year 9, the Short Course in Citizenship aims to develop knowledge and understanding, encouraging students to become informed citizens, and advancing their skills of enquiry, communication, participation and responsible action.

During the two year course the classes will explore local, national and international issues, events of current interest. Students will be asked to critically evaluate their active participation school and community.


There are no tiers.


There are two components:

  • exam 40%
  • coursework 60%


The content is divided into three themes, which all students will

These are:

  • Theme 1  – Citizenship – rights and responsibilities
  • Theme 2  –  Citizenship and government
  • Theme 3  –  Citizenship and participation

The active Citizenship campaigns make up 60% of the GCSE and allow small groups of students to choose their own projects and make a change. The skills learnt during these projects equip our pupils with important skills for life.

Students are encouraged to be as creative and imaginative as possible. Online campaigns have generated a lot of interest and national recognition.


Close the Door

A group of determined year 11s realised what a big impact they could have after starting the first ever school’s project of a national campaign called ‘Close the Door.’ The purpose of the campaign  being to reduce energy waste from shops operating an unnecessary open door policy. A short video of their work and visit into town is below if you follow the link. The campaign has had some great success nationally in the last six months.

For more information see

Patcham School Bike Train

A group of keen cyclists in Year 10 helped organise the first ever School Bike Train. Twenty five teachers and students left the level in a convoy of bicycles at 7.30am to mark the first day of National Bike Week. The purpose of the project was to promote cycling to school and to reduce traffic-related air pollution and CO2 emissions.

Key Stage 4

Links to Universities

Life Skills students interested in studying law, are able to attend Brighton University’s ‘Law and Order Conference’.

Students attended lectures from an Oxford Magistrate, a Chief Inspector for Sussex Police and Professors from Brighton University, taking seminars on sociological aspects and the politics of law, employment law, public discrimination against youths, and human rights.

Legal Weapon

Students in year 11 experience the live show from Ape Productions sponsored by East Sussex Fire And Rescue.

Called ‘Legal Weapon’, the story unfolds to illuminate the dangers of dangerous driving and young drivers and the impact in can have on young lives.

“Legal Weapon” addresses the issues of excessive speed, peer pressure and attitudes amongst young drivers. Using tight stylised physical theatre techniques, which take the audience through a roller coaster of emotions, it is a powerful and emotive road safety drama that moves at a blistering pace.

It shows that they need to combine newly acquired skills with a safe, responsible attitude towards driving if they are not to put themselves and other vulnerable road users at risk. This drama, combined with other educational initiatives, emphasises the fact that driving skills alone are not enough to keep young drivers out of danger.

Life Skills Lessons


Website Article – Capital Punishment– by Emily and Rosie


This week’s Parliament trip for Year 10 pupils provided a close up experience of British politics in the heart of the action. After a day rubbing shoulders with some of the country’s most influential policy makers the relevance of citizenship lessons, voting and democracy all became a little clearer…

We were greeted at ‘Westminster Palace’ by Brighton and Hove MP Caroline Lucas. Pupils had an array of questions to grill the politician, who was happy to engage with and encourage the pupils’ learning on such issues as current voting systems, immigration and health. She also emphasised to the pupils the importance of standing up for their own beliefs and daring to make change. This was particularly inspiring for the girls, as we learnt that only 22% of all MPs are women – there was disbelief and dismay in their faces.

Next we were led on a tour around the houses by an extremely experienced and knowledgeable gentleman, who revealed how the ins and outs of how the system worked. The pupils learnt about how bills are passed, in which section the Queen is forbidden and exactly what Lord Sugar contributes to the laws of our country. Pupils were able to stand in the spots that Lords and Ladies have stood in whilst changing the law of the land for centuries, the historical relevance was undeniable.

Finally we were lucky enough to attend a debate in the Commons, featuring the Prime Minister himself. One pupil was excited to see an MP who she recognised, another was captivated by the intricate word cricket that was playing out in front of him. There was a clear motivation by the pupils to understand and follow the debate so that they might contribute their own opinions to one another.

Attending a trip that places so much historic and social learning into a real context provides a tangible, memorable experience for pupils that they won’t forget. To be given the opportunity to deepen their understanding of how our country is organised, gives them a knowledge that many adults don’t have. With this knowledge and confidence in their own abilities and beliefs, we have given a great gift to the pupils and potentially the future of politics.


During Year 8 students learn about homelessness as part of their topic on Ethics. Using a lesson designed by Sue Philips  the lesson aims to change the attitude of the pupils so that they are moved to take action in their own lives’.

Through creating a series of experiences which can take pupils into  feelings about injustice, deprivation, suffering and most importantly the poverty trap, students are able to connect to those that find themselves in difficult situations.

The lesson starts with rubbish. Students make their own shelter and stay in it for the remainder of the lesson on the floor. They then listen to stories, reading off grubby worksheets, take part in attitude continuums and reflect on their learning by completing a quadrant.

The lesson culminates in the students making their own sign, designed to evoke  empathy in passers by.



Ex Patcham High Student, Ryan Walshe, returned to give inspirational talks on testicular cancer to all Life Skills classes in years 10 and 11.

Ryan has created a lesson (and his website ‘Talking Testicles’) dedicated to improving the knowledge and understanding around cancer and the skills to self check.

The lesson aims to:

• Increase general awareness of testicular cancer
• Encourage young men and women to become familiar with their bodies
• Distribute information at an educational level

Being aware of the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer along with early diagnosis can help avoid suffering and treatments associated with testicular cancer and in some cases even death. When detected and treated early, testicular cancer is one of the most curable forms of cancer with a 99% survival rate. Many men are not aware that testicular cancer is the most common cancer among males between the ages of 15-45.


Some of the comments and feedback left for Ryan on his website:

‘Thanks so much for coming in to tell us today about this issue hardly anyone knew about. We were talking about it afterward and we have learnt a great deal (and I’m sure your talk to day will save one of our lives in the future)’ Katie

‘Thank you for the talk today, it made me realize that this issue is really important. It was really interesting how you told your story because you made a lot of people in my class realize how fast it cancer can spread and how much impact it has on people’s lives, thank you again” – Dan

‘Thank you for the inspirational talk Ryan! It was so amazing seeing how strong you were, and I know it helped because a lot of boys I spoke to a day or two after had checked for any lumps! Good luck with your campaign x’ Demi

Visit Ryan’s website yourself to find out more information.



For their Citizenship GCSE 5 students hosted an alcohol awareness after-school session for pupils as part of these school’s Health Day on the 14thMarch.

The workshops was hugely successful and well attended. Activities included practicing the recovery position, a beer goggle assault course and learning about units.  Students were also given free gifts kindly donated by The Sussex Partnership Trust.

Emmy, Georgina, Chris, Adam and Sebastian have already been in talks with a researcher from the Department of Health and Healthy Schools on teenagers’ perception of alcohol and this work is part of the ‘Big Alcohol Debate’, a local and national initiative to combat binge drinking.  Their views on how to tackle excessive consumption of alcohol will be fed back directly to government and make a change for young people across the country.

The activities prepared were superb and relevant; equally the film clips, and feedback / questioning were very informative. The team work and planning in the group was excellent and I am very proud of the students’ ability to tackle sensitive issues. They interacted  well with their peers making them feel comfortable and willing to learn from each other.

Here are some quotes from the group:

  • I learnt how many units in a bottle of vodka.
  • I leant how to put on a condom correctly.
  • How much is safe to drink.
  • How many units are appropriate for men and women.
  • How many units counts as binge drinking.
  • I have leant the recovery position.
  • How hard it is to use a condom when drunk!

For more information look at a Brighton based website :


The BBC’s first Schools Questions & Answers webcast of 2012 took place on  Friday 11th May.
Students at Patcham High School have been linking up with hundreds of schools across the UK to watch live online and take part in the debate.

Chaired by Kirsty Wark, on the panel were Shadow Treasury Secretary Rachel Reeves, Tory MP Anna Soubry, George Galloway representing the Respect Party, and Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies. The event was streamed online and pupils were able to submit their opinions on the unfolding debate though an interactive live blog on the BBC website.

‘The Year 10 students thoroughly enjoyed being part of the debate. We are very fortunate with timetabled Citizenship lessons, all students at Patcham are educated in politics.’
Nancy Meaker, Head of Life Skills

The webcast was a positive learning experience for all pupils involved and fully supported their GCSE Citizenship course taken as part of the Life Skills curriculum at Patcham High School. Topics discussed included gay marriage, internet surveillance and, with so many of our political leaders coming through private education, are state school pupils right to believe that positions of power are no longer open to them?

 ‘It was brilliant to be involved with the show and to argue online how we felt about the decisions made in our country’
Katie Mills , student.

Albion in the Community / DENNE Construction Yr 10 Visit

Ms Meaker’s Year 10 class were lucky to have the opportunity for a work-related learning session run by Albion in the Community.

Jo and Carl from the Amex Stadium, spoke to students about the world of work and Louise Taylor from DENNE Construction talked about jobs available in the construction industry.

The pupils then took part in a construction activity led by Louise, one that focused on time, planning and cost. Students had to build the tallest tower out of limited Lego bricks but they were fined for errors in time management and incorrect estimates of bricks. Just like the real world, the groups received bonuses if they completed the work on time and if the project was cost effective.

Congratulations to Leah, Courtenay and Rachel for building the tallest tower – coming in at 1m40cm and for making a £56,500 profit for their company ‘Bob the Builder’!

‘I liked the way it showed me different opportunities for work for when I’m older, and the different gateways of getting experience in the construction industry’ Tom

‘The workshop taught me importance of team work.’ Cian

‘It helped me gain a different perspective – how different work is to school.’ Rachel

Louise also said that DENNE Construction are happy to come into Patcham High and offer one-to-one careers advice to anyone seeking a job in the construction industry, and they also offer work experience placements and apprenticeships.  For more information please speak to Ms Meaker or Mrs Mansfield.

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