The longest term of the year has flown by and looking back at all that has happened in the Life Skills classrooms across the school demonstrates just how much has been covered by all the children. In Life Skills pupils are not just learning about how to express how they ‘feel’ and are certainly not just chatting about the ‘touchy feely stuff’!   These lessons are opportunities for all pupils to consider issues that will affect them as they grow and help them form opinions on a diverse range of topics.

Our term began with children from Pre-Prep to Year 6 considering the rights of others. Pupils looked at how we all have rights, but with those rights come responsibilities, rewards and consequences.  Whilst the younger pupils look at how their own behaviour impacts both their own and the learning of others, pupils in Years 5 and 6 considered how this affects children across the world and looked at migrants, refugees and children working in cocoa plantations in Ghana. These pupils had to decide whether these global children’s rights are met. Year 6 specifically looked Maslow’s Triangle and whether little Patrick, from Ghana, will ever reach self-actualisation.

The older pupils continued with their Citizenship curriculum by looking at the ever-confusing world of politics and parliament (again, there is nothing touchy-feel about that!)  Having learned last year about the general make-up of our democratic parliament and how we vote for parties to run the country, our Year 8 pupils found out how laws are passed.  Debates were had on smoking and sanitary-tax and we have some budding politicians in our midst.  Please don’t worry, I haven’t encouraged this career profession!

Meanwhile our ‘new look’ Life Skills has over the last couple of years incorporated Religious Understanding which saw our Year 7 pupils embrace the Conflict theme by considering the three Abrahamic Religions and the Holy Land.  Whilst learning how these religions are so incredibly important to millions of people around the world our pupils had to learn how to present their research and findings to their peers without reading from a pretty power point.  It’s a life skill that some adults need to learn how to do properly!

As we have moved into the latter stages of the term children from Reception to Year 8 have spent time reflecting (our younger pupils use Jerry Cat to Paws (Pause) for thought!) on how our differences make us truly unique but even so we all just want to be treated the same. From cerebral palsy and visual impairments to academic differences and colours and creeds, the children across the school have learned that kindness and tolerance is the right, and only, way. The younger children looked at name calling, excluding each other etc and the seniors considered cyber-bullying issues, peer pressure, sexting and racism.  Whilst this is much more about feelings, it has serious implications to the lives of many and I was so pleased that the whole school supported Odd Socks Day.

Our work in Life Skills across the whole school has not slowed down in the run up to Christmas; even on our penultimate day the children have taken part in a Mock Election.  Four Members of the ‘Vinehall’ Parliament (!) husted to the whole school to gain support for their manifestos.  These were real party Manifestoes which were simplified for our younger pupils so that each member of the Vinehall Prep school community could choose who they would want to run our country.  The parties were given fake names so that the children couldn’t just vote for the party that they may have heard their parents talking about. And the winner was Our work in Life Skills across the whole school has not slowed down in the run up to Christmas; even on our penultimate day the children have taken part in a Mock Election. Four Members of the ‘Vinehall’ Parliament (!) husted to the whole school to gain support for their manifestos. These were real party Manifestos which were simplified for our younger pupils so that each member of the Vinehall Prep school community could choose who they would want to run our country. The parties were given fake names so that the children couldn’t just vote for the party that they may have heard their parents talking about. And the winner was – The Progress Party which was represented by Mary KB; the Progress party was actually The Green party!  Noah G’s Tomorrow Party (aka Conservatives) came last; Billy M’s Transform Party (aka Labour) were third and Eleanore M’s Vision Party (aka Liberal Democrats) were close runners up. Well done to Mary, Noah, Billy and Eleanore for standing up and husting to their peers; they did a fantastic job. I was really impressed by the Seniors who had all worked out the manifestos; they understood it better than I did!

Louise Payne