St Thomas More Catholic Academy & Sixth Form College

With grace and humility,
glorify the Lord by your life

Personal Development

Academic and personal success is only possible from a foundation of resilience, self-confidence, social and personal awareness and emotional intelligence.  This is the basis of the personal development curriculum at St Thomas More.  Our curriculum, is designed to ensure that mental health and well-being, PSHEE (Physical, Social, Health and Economic Education), and RSHE (Relationships, Sex and Health Education) are afforded the time and importance needed to cradle a safe and healthy learning career for all pupils.  Personal development, delivered fortnightly by tutors and supported by outside speakers allows a safe space for pupils to ask questions and examine ‘learning for life’ experiences that will help our pupils to get through the ebb and flow of growing up, and move into adulthood more roundly prepared for life and modern day Britain. 

Pupils will have the opportunity to learn about key British Values such as rights and responsibilities, to investigate laws, justice and democracy, and respect different cultures and identities.  Within these concepts, the processes of critical thinking, decision-making, working with others, self-development, enterprise and taking informed and responsible action will be explored. 



Course Overview

The Personal Development curriculum draws on statutory guidelines whilst also addressing the needs of our local community.  In addition to the below topics, pupils will explore careers education and relationships, sex and health education in each year group. 

In year 7 pupils get the opportunity to explore some of the following topics:

  • Settling into secondary school and how to respond to anxieties and build resilience
  • Self-harm
  • Child Sexual Exploitation
  • Positive and safe relationships between family & friends
  • Bullying     
  • Health & hygiene (exploration of changes in puberty).   
  • Knife crime
  • Self-esteem & how to improve it
  • Breaking down stereotypes including protected characteristics
  • Safe use of digital technology     
  • Consent and boundaries
  • Careers and the future, financial education

In year 8 pupils get the opportunity to explore some of the following topics:

  • Knife crime
  • Healthy relationships including mental health 
  • Alcohol & drugs
  • Positive body image and types of abuse
  • Challenging prejudice and appreciating differences (gender stereotypes, gender dysphoria & transgenderism, protected characteristics)
  • Safe digital use and online safety 
  • Consent, harmful sexual behaviour
  • County lines 
  • Employability skills and career choices

 In year 9 pupils get the opportunity to explore some of the following topics:

  • Radicalisation 
  • Critical thinking and identifying 'fake' news
  • Types of abuse, consent issues & sexual exploitation
  • Knife crime
  • Fertility and contraception         
  • Healthy relationships and inappropriate sexual behaviour
  • Marriage 
  • Drugs & alcohol
  • Maintaining a positive mental health 
  • Media and 'air-brushing'  
  • FGM, human trafficking & honour-based violence
  • Money management, employability, labour market anf future aspirations and careers 

In Year 10 pupils get the opportunity to explore the following topics:

  • Work experience and careers 
  • Types of abuse & consent
  • Online gambling 
  • Social media 
  • Emotional well-being
  • Abuse includes manipulation, sexual grooming, cyberbullying & pornography
  • Body image     
  • Harmful sexual behaviour including sexting and nudes
  • Womens' rights

In Year 11 have the opportunity to explore the following topics: 

  • Post 16 choices of university, college, apprenticeships, technical qualifications
  • Revision techniques       
  • Healthy bodies (focus on breast & testicular cancer)       
  • Addiction            
  • Eating disorders
  • Coercive control
  • Harmful sexual behaviour 
  • Dealing with exam stress
  • Maintaining a positive mental health 
  • Valuing yourself and self-esteem

Relationships, Sex and Health Education

St Thomas More offers a bespoke programme to support and address the needs of young people where they are at in today’s world, whilst being rooted in the wisdom and teaching of the Catholic Church.  Across the seven year programme, included are lessons on puberty, body confidence and self-esteem, personal hygiene, fertility, menstruation, family and friends, boundaries and consent, healthy and respectful relationships, sexual intimacy, delaying sex, an understanding of the body, sexuality, marriage, rape and so called honour-based violence including forced marriage and FGM, online relationships, social media, stereotyping and prejudice, grooming, pressure and harassment, STIs, contraception and natural family planning, abortion/miscarriage, the effect of drugs and alcohol on relationships, pornography and sexual exploitation. 

Personal Development in the Sixth Form

Personal Development in the Sixth Form is taught in a variety of ways including through dedicated Personal Development lessons, assemblies, and specific events including Diversity Day, Careers Fairs, Mental Health Awareness and Tutor provision. Our curriculum aims to provide students with a sound understanding of their role as a citizen now and in the future, the opportunity to consider wider societal and personal issues and the ability to develop critical thinking to make safe and informed decisions. Today’s children and young people are growing up in an increasingly complex modern world and are living their lives seamlessly on and offline and this presents many positive and exciting opportunities, but also challenges and risks. In this environment, children and young people need to know how to be safe and healthy, and how to manage their academic, personal and social lives in a positive way.

We work in line with the Government’s Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education Guidance, Please click here to view. 

St Thomas More Sixth Form College is committed to developing students’ awareness in three key areas, including;

  • Mental Health & Wellbeing
  • Relationships
  • The World We Live In

Each member of staff will be trained in the RSHE aspect of Personal Development and will then support students with the pre-planned and resourced topics.

Tutors cover topical Personal Development stories/issues in tutor time and during the compulsory and timetabled PD session and these can be focused on a specific topic and aim to contextualize the lesson-based learning of students, making them accessible, relatable and current affairs based. This encourages our students to gain a wider understanding of the world they live in and to debate differing views whilst respecting the views of others. The tutor role is pivotal and will allow for a sound platform for students to share ideas and broaden their position in society.


Core Theme Overviews

Topics taught in Personal Development are ‘spiral’ and developmental. The aim is that knowledge and understanding are built upon through the academic years whilst also looking to make cross-curricular links, where possible and appropriate e.g. drugs education to enrich students’ awareness.

Topics are aimed at the developmental stage of students and are revised regularly to ensure they are suitable for our students. Topics come under the following 3 Core Themes of the PD Curriculum;


This Core Theme covers mental, physical and emotional well-being. Enriching understanding of what mental ill health can look like, healthy coping mechanisms that can be used to manage mental ill health and how to promote positive mental well-being in yourself and others. The topics developed further into looking at the links between physical and mental health and the impacts this can have on emotional well-being in the now and in the future. Core Theme includes; Anti Bullying, Mental Health & well-being, Tolerance, Diversity in the Media, and Drugs Education.


This Core Theme covers the development of healthy relationships and incorporates the statutory requirements of Sex and Relationships Education. The topic explores how to build healthy relationships with family and peers before looking at romantic relationships, consent, contraception/pregnancy choices and the development of the family unit. The aim is to equip students with the knowledge to make informed choices, behave in a respectful and appropriate manner and understand the law around Sex, Relationships and Media.

Core Theme includes; Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE), Community, Relationships & The Abuse of Power


This core theme covers the development of students as part of their wider community. Developing awareness global issues, different cultures and of how developmental stages can influence personal change, students look to enhance their understanding of broader topics and gain a practical and useful understanding of topics covered to develop healthy discussion, make informed and appropriate decisions and contribute positively to their local and wider community.

Core theme includes; Personal Finance, The Legal System, Social Justice, Medical Ethics, Careers, Values & Global Education, Personal Safety and Diversity & Awareness.

The programme allows teachers the flexibility to deliver high-quality PSHE and encompass many areas of study. The central aim of PSHE is to equip pupils with a sound understanding of risk and with the knowledge and skills necessary to make safe and informed decisions.


We are raising awareness through the following;

  • Supporting global charities 
  • Introduction to the MAC chosen local charity-(Doorway) and promoting social action
  • Authentic freedom
  • Sex/Peer/virginity/procreation
  • Self-image/body shame/dignity and modesty
  • Values, attitudes and beliefs – making wise choices
  • Parenthood
  • Pregnancy and abortion
  • Abuse – different types and signs
  • Solidarity- Female genital mutilation and honour-based crimes
  • Bone Marrow talk
  • Driving safely
  • Staying safe in society – Talk by the police
  • Mental health signs/signposting and support
  • Finance and budgeting and making sound decisions
  • International day
  • Hidden disabilities talk
  • What it means to study at a Catholic college and understand and embrace  different faiths and using the multi-faith room for spiritual reflection
  • Police talk about staying safe