The educational benefits of confident, more resilient students
Written by John Lewis
Deputy Head Teacher St Edward's School
(From an article originally published in Conference and Common Room.)
At St Edward's we have always believed that teaching our students practical life-enhancing skills is essential for their positive overall development and contributes to a successful academic learning environment. Our goal has always been to build resilient, happy, successful students who can go out into the world feeling confident and able to make safe decisions, no matter what situation they may find themselves dealing with.
So, when in early in 2018 we had the opportunity to review and assess a new Personal Safety Programme from Streetwise365, we were excited to see how this new product could help us to work with our students.
Streetwise365 believe that education providers need to take the lead in teaching students how to be safe. Their programme helps to achieve this via a series of interactive workshops and an online resource packed with content designed to educate secondary students on how to make safe decisions and stay safe in everyday life situations.
Working closely with the Streetwise365 Team, we were able to discuss our specific needs with regards to the subject of student personal safety and how we could introduce this training into our already busy school timetable. The overall objective was to integrate the programme into all Year groups as seamlessly and as quickly as possible. It began with an initial programme of two-hour workshops, supported through the use of the online resource material. There was then the option, in the future, to add additional workshops as and when required.
The Streetwise365 programme revolves around the simple principle of ‘awareness and understanding', giving students the life skills to be aware of potential dangers in everyday situations. This assists them in making sensible and safe decisions, allowing them to act appropriately to move themselves to safety.
The students (and staff) have attended the workshops together, working through real life scenarios. Through this they have learnt to develop the skills required to recognise potential dangers, practised defusing techniques and learnt basic defence skills to protect themselves if required to do so.
An unexpected bonus has been that the staff have also found the programme very rewarding, proving that personal safety is a skill required by all ages.
We found that the programme fits perfectly within our existing PSHE initiative – supporting the students and quickly upskilling them.
We particularly liked the fact that the main emphasis of the Programme is about detecting potential danger and moving to safety as early as possible. This has provided our students with the skills to deal with real life situations, enabling them to improve their individual decision making skills to keep themselves safe.
The programme has also taught the students the key facts about UK Law with regards to protecting themselves, their families and their friends. It has included useful explanations about how the law may interpret their actions and the possible consequences of those actions.
The Streetwise365 programme is relatively new (although now being used in some of the county's top Independent Schools) however, it is underpinned by an existing and proven methodology called the Spear System, developed by Coach Tony Blauer who works with Police and Military forces worldwide – he is currently upskilling UK prison guards.
Andy Privet from Streetwise365 has taken the Spear concept and built an appropriate education-based product suitable for Secondary and Sixth Form Students. (There is a Primary education product due for release later this year enabling Streetwise365 to help students of all ages to stay safe.)
Utilising the internet as a delivery mechanism, the online resource utilises PowerPoint presentations and videos to take every Year group through a structured learning environment. There is little planning or building of resource required by the teacher. Our teaching staff have found that the product has been extremely easy to implement, no previous personal safety training required and with any level of teaching staff being able to teach the lessons.
St Edward's has just become a Streetwise365 Ambassador School, so we now benefit from an even closer working relationship with the Streetwise365 Team in both implementing the programme within the School, as well as championing the product to other schools (State and Independent) within the local community. We believe this shows the commitment from both the School and Streetwise365 to develop the product as a long-term solution.
As a Streetwise365 Ambassador School, we recently hosted the 2019 Streetwise365 Teacher Training Day, where several teachers from other local schools (who are running the programme) attended St Edward's for a joint workshop aimed at helping the teachers to teach their students the Streetwise365 concepts.
The next step of our implementation plan is to introduce the product to our Prep School to give students access to the programme at an earlier age. The lesson plans are age-appropriate and have been built within a spiral curriculum concept to allow the programme to build through the students' school life and progress through the School.
Future plans also include inviting parents to join their children in joint Personal Safety workshops, allowing our parents to encourage and support the concepts of the programme at home.
So after 12 months of using Streetwise365 within the School, the feedback from our students and parents has been fantastic, with the levels of confidence and resilience of students improving. This positive result has transferred into the classroom and we are seeing the benefits of confident students through the academic achievements of the School.
The Streetwise365 Personal Safety Programme ‘ticks the boxes' in a number of areas; safeguarding, developing the whole child, working with parents and teaching student safety. It also enables us to evidence some of the indicators as laid out by the Independent School Inspectorate.
The programme has provided us with a mechanism to ensure that we are putting our students' personal safety and well-being at the centre of everything that we do, helping us to develop our students into confident, resilient and successful individuals.