PSHE / Life Matters

At St Catherine's our Life Matters courses cover the PSHE curriculum. The aims and philosophy of the Life Matters Department are to equip our students with the accurate information, Thinking Skills, and the inter- and intra-personal skills necessary to make good choices for life and to forge healthy and happy relationships for the future.

Changes in preparation for new legislation starting in 2020

We are very proud of our existing program, and new legislation coming into effect in September 2020 for PSHE gives us exciting opportunities to review and expand our Life Matters curriculum. The new governmental guidance for the teaching of Relationships and Sex Education covers much familiar content, and also contains updated guidance on the teaching of Mental Health. A significant difference is the new requirement to assess student progress, and we will be leveraging some of our favourite digital tools (Kahoot, Quizizz, Google Forms, Kialo etc.) to achieve this in an engaging way in class time, without adding to student workload.

Through the academic year 2019-2020 we will be consulting parents and students, and piloting some new courses and content, to ensure St Catherine’s girls continue to receive the very best PSHE/Life Matters education.


Philosophy and Aims

Throughout their Life Matters lessons at St Catherine's all girls should develop the following:

  •     Strong Inter and Intrapersonal Skills eg. Communication, Empathy, Self-Awareness
  •     An Informed Worldview – eg. What are Human Rights, What is Radicalisation
  •     Applied Thinking Skills – eg. Problem Solving, Risk Assessment
In their weekly dedicated lesson students in U3-U5 follow a program including sessions of active learning, group work, teacher-led inputs, and talks from visiting speakers. Students gain skills and experiences which contribute both to their broad general education and also to the aims of St Catherine's and Life Matters.


Year Group Focus

  •     U3: Self-awareness eg: Who am I? What does it mean to belong?
  •     L4: Self-acceptance eg: It's good to be me
  •     U4: Self-efficacy eg: I can make a difference in my own life
  •     L5: Humankind eg: I can adapt to changes
  •     U5: Life Support eg: I can overcome challenges



Taking the 9 themes from the PSHE association we have a spiral curriculum, where the themes are revisited each year. This allows for reflection and consolidation, for the induction of new girls, and for the delivery of age-appropriate content.

  •     Identity (their personal qualities, attitudes, skills, attributes and achievements and what influences these)
  •     Relationships (including different types and in different settings)
  •     A healthy (including physically, emotionally and socially) balanced lifestyle (including within relationships, work-life, exercise and rest, spending and saving and diet)
  •     Risk (identification, assessment and how to manage risk rather than simply the avoidance of risk for self and others) and safety (including behaviour and strategies to employ in different settings)
  •     Diversity and Equality (in all its forms)
  •     Rights (including the notion of universal human rights), responsibilities (including fairness and justice) and consent (in different contexts)
  •     Change (as something to be managed) and resilience (the skills, strategies and ‘inner resources’ we can draw on when faced with challenging change or circumstance)
  •     Power (how it is used and encountered in a variety of contexts including persuasion, bullying, negotiation and ‘win-win’ outcomes)
  •     Career (including enterprise, employability and economic understanding)


6th Form

Within the SCOPE curriculum, specific lectures are delivered on various age-specific life matters content; for example:

  •     The dangers of alcohol
  •     Safe-drive, Stay alive
  •     Drugs education


Staff team

Life Matters is primarily taught by Senior Pastoral staff with the confidence and experience to manage issues arising. School Housemistresses, Boarding Housemistresses and experienced Pastoral staff receive specialist training, and meet weekly to ensure lessons reflect and address any pastoral concerns, or current issues in the school community.

  •     U3/L4: The School Housemistresses (Izzy McLean, Amanda White, Sophie Hay, Simone Berry, Kirsty Meredith, Rosa McQuade)
  •     U4: Laura White*, Helen Harkness**, Caroline Warren***, Isabel Cook** and Izzy McLean
  •     L5: Laura White*, Helen Harkness**, Isabel Cook**
  •     U5: Laura White*, Isabel Cook and Caroline Warren***

* Miss Laura White is Head of Life Matters
** Boarding Housemistresses.
*** Head of Academic Mentoring
 Isabel Cook is also our Resilience Programme Coordinator


Support for parents

If you would like to know more or have any particular queries contact:

  •     Laura White - Head of Life Matters
  •     Kirsty Meredith - Senior Housemistress
  •     or.. any of the other members of your daughter's pastoral team.


Regular Communications

Parents and guardians should expect a termly Clarion detailing the topics that are coming up for particular year groups and suggesting any particularly relevant resources for that age group.  

Useful websites


Substance abuse:

Family Planning and Sexual Health :