Life Skills

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.

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.


  • Personal identities
  • Healthy lifestyles
  • 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
  • Safe decision making


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 annual Safe and Well at School Survey 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


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.

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.


Key Stage 4


Life Skills provides two GCSE options; Religious Studies and Citizenship for students to study alongside their compulsory one hour a week of Life Skills lessons.

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, has given recognition to some of our students campaigns as part of their GCSE Citizenship work, saying: “This is a wonderful example of how young people can engage with their local community to bring about change for the better.”

Beginning in year 9, the Citizenship and RS courses aim to develop knowledge and understanding, encouraging students to become informed citizens, and advancing their skills of critical enquiry, communication, participation and responsible action.

During the three year course the classes will explore local, national and international issues and events of current interest from wither a political (Citizenship) or religious (RS) standpoint.

Neither GCSE option provides an opportunity for coursework as both courses are exam only.



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.


PSHE Topics for Year 9-11

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. Our Drug and Alcohol Education is centred around skills-based learning which helps our pupils feel confident and comfortable in a number of difficult situations in which teenagers can find themselves.

Lessons on Homelessness

During year 9 students learn about homelessness. 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.

The topic also includes learning about the causes of homelessness, types of homelessness and local and national organisations who work to prevent homelessness. Pupils are visited by YMCA Homeless Prevention Team who run a workshop highlighting the common causes of homelessness amongst young people and how to avoid these.



As part of this topic, pupils investigate the causes of Radicalisation and how to prevent young people from being radicalised. In particular, pupils focus on the strategies employed by Muslim extremist groups and Far-Right organisations to use the media in the radicalisation process. Pupils are taught how to avoid, identify and report such incidences so they are protected whilst online and in everyday life.

As part of this topic, pupils study religious persecution from the past and present. The Holocaust and Islamophobia are the main issues addressed as pupils look into the marginalisation and alienation which can lead to social unrest and extremism.

Animal Rights

Vegetarianism, Animal Testing, Fox Hunting and Responsible Pet Ownership are the issues raised in this topic. We are lucky to be visited by Emma from Raystede who delivers a session on how to ensure we are responsible pet owners by explaining the law on animal care and neglect.

This topic provides a great opportunity for debates and a comparative study of religious and non-religious attitudes to life in our world.

Relationship and Sex Education

In the summer term pupils learn about the fundamentals of healthy relationships such as Consent, Sexting and The Law, Saying No, Contraception, The History of Sex and Local Services. All Life Skills teachers are trained annually to ensure we have the most up-to-date training on these issues. The teaching and learning in this topic refers to student data from the Safe and Well at School Survey and our key message is always that the most normal teenage relationship does not involve sex. However the purpose of RSE is to provide pupils with the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed, responsible decisions involving their own relationships.

We are very lucky to have Survivors Network and ManKind deliver workshops for pupils on consent and they also offer small group sessions in the school for pupils who would like more information and support on this.

Discrimination and Equality

Pupils spend a lot of time researching and looking in to types and examples from society of discrimination in the form of Racism, Homophobia, Sexism, Ageism, and Disability Discrimination. As part of this pupils study the laws put in place to prevent discrimination, promote equality, move towards community cohesion and celebrate diversity.

Patcham High School has positive links with a number of outside agencies who can come in and speak with pupils regarding this for example Allsorts Youth Project, Scope and members from local religious communities.

Life Skills also contributes to the whole school celebration of diversity by contributing to the Diversity Theme of The Week in Patcham News.

Money Management and Finance

We find that many pupils are interested in learning about ways to manage their money in the future. In particular, pupils are keen to learn about mortgages and paying rent, managing bills and paying tax. In addition to this, we understand the need to educate our pupils about the risks of gambling and debt which are rising concerns amongst young people today.

This topic also provides opportunity to compare religious and secular attitudes to poverty and wealth, drawing upon key individuals and examples from past and present society. Lloyds TSB also come in to hold unbiased workshops for pupils on this issue so they feel prepared to make safe decisions about their finances in the future.

Current Affairs

Obviously the changing nature of society demands that the Life Skills subject content is kept up-to-date at all times and we place great emphasis on staff training and consolidation with PSHE teachers across the city. As a result, our lessons are constantly being adapted in response to current affairs and the impact these have on the Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural needs of our pupils. For example, in the last two years, additional lessons have been delivered to all or some year groups on the following:

  • The Paris Attacks
  • Air Strikes in Syria
  • The General Election
  • The EU Referendum
  • Las Vegas Shooting/ Gun Laws in the UK and USA
  • I Am Whole Mental Health Campaign
  • Public Space Protection Orders
  • Genocide of Rohingya Muslims


Other Opportunities


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.



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, Teacher 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.