The Teen LifeCheck - engaging students
Teen LifeCheck – engaging students
A new free, interactive online quiz from the NHS is proving a success in helping to engage pupils with their health and well-being. Wakefield is just one of the areas which has been using NHS Teen LifeCheck in schools to deliver Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education. Paul Makin, Service Director for Schools and Lifelong Learning at Wakefield Council explains.
In the Wakefield District, we feel it is essential to bring the PSHE curriculum to life and make lessons and other activities as interactive as possible, and NHS Teen LifeCheck has been an excellent way of introducing pupils to all of the issues covered by the PSHE curriculum.
NHS Teen LifeCheck guides young people through a set of simple multiple-choice questions and then gives them tailored advice on how they can take small steps to improve their lifestyles by setting goals and signposting to national and local services for further support. It covers a range of issues including physical activity, nutrition, solvents and illegal drugs, sexual health, alcohol and smoking. Additionally, it focuses on young people’s emotional well-being – with advice and top tips about stress, bullying, relationships, personal safety and self-esteem. Essentially, it touches on all of the key topics covered by PSHE.
Using the quiz in PSHE lessons with reassurance from teachers – and the promise of confidentiality – has helped to kick-start more detailed discussions with pupils. It has allowed our students to reflect on their health – without having to reply to a teacher. The questions are often posed in the second person, e.g. “Your friend tells you that they’re being bullied. What do you do?” This helps explore the pupil’s attitudes and values around health and well being behaviours, whilst helping to decrease resistance and embarrassment.
In the Wakefield district, we have also established a LifeCheck team. Employed by NHS Wakefield District’s Community Health Services, the team offers one-to-one sessions with individuals who request extra support. This collaboration with our Primary Care Trust, NHS Wakefield District has been crucial. The LifeCheck team has developed specialist lesson plans, which have been implemented in schools such as Hemsworth Arts and Community College. The LifeCheck team has also been involved with multi-agency drop-in centres where teens can experience Teen LifeCheck and speak to specialist staff such as school nurses, sexual health nurses, smoking cessation workers, Connexions staff, safer schools police officers and education welfare officers.
In addition, Hemsworth Arts and Community College has developed 'alternative curriculum days' where the normal timetable is suspended and students follow activities based around PSHE and citizenship. This includes information on NHS Teen LifeCheck. Other schools have developed other techniques to promote NHS Teen LifeCheck that are tailored to their own context. For example, some present it in religious and sexual education lessons or assemblies. Some even have students who act as peer educators.
Students across the district have logged onto www.wakefielddistrict.nhs.uk/lifecheck during lessons, adding to the 130,000 teens who have completed the quiz nationally. Typically, in a lesson students are introduced to the quiz and given a short presentation about how to use it before navigating their way through the questions. They are then asked to evaluate the results and reflect on what they have learnt.
As the year continues, schools across the Wakefield district will tailor the use of the quiz to each school setting, including special and community schooling – meaning many more students will take the quiz in the area. We are also continuing the provision of NHS Teen LifeCheck outside lessons including in year assemblies and drop-in sessions. Encouraging young people in schools to become peer educators is also a key aim this academic year and we are working closely with the UK Youth Parliament and Young People's Services to achieve this. Our goal is to ensure it is fully embedded with as many young people across the district as possible.
The use of NHS Teen LifeCheck in PSHE lessons has been a great success in the Wakefield district, but any school across the country could follow suit by contacting their local authority or PCT LifeCheck co-ordinator. The PSHE lead in the school can then develop a delivery plan that suits the needs of the school, in effect tailoring the NHS LifeCheck tool to sit comfortably with the school’s wider strategy. This may also involve liaising with school nurses and other partners in the school.
To find out more about NHS Teen LifeCheck go to www. lifecheckers.co.uk
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