Share this post
Table of Contents
What is Personal Development?
Personal development is a term that refers to the self-directed efforts to help children learn, grow and improve. In terms of personal development in school, each child should be encouraged to become personally, emotionally, socially and physically effective to lead a healthy and sustained life.
It is more than a continuum of life skills, personal development begins and a process that involves the entire world of each individual young person, where the school can play a contributing factor. It is important to remember that personal development activities can vary depending on the student’s age and individual needs. However, the end goal is always to help the student to find joy and fulfilment in the process of self-improvement.
There are noticeably four aspects of personal development:
- Risk and Protective Factors
Young people with higher levels of protective factors in their lives are less likely to develop a range of problems inculding health, mental health, social and relational problems.
- Life Skills
Not all skills for a healthy lifestyle and mind can be taught or achieved in the classroom. The life skill curriculum allows students the opportunity to develop and support the learning of valuable skills. This can be something as simple as:
- Using a Knife and Fork
- Tying Shoe Laces
- Making a Hot Drink
- First Aid
The Add Health Study found that pupils who feel more connected to school have better mental health and are less likely to engage in risky behaviour, feel fairly treated, feel safe both physically and emotionally, feel close to others and feel included and apart from the school.
Resiliency is the ability to “bounce back” from obstructive situations and to overcome the negative influences that can block achievement. Measuring resilience focuses on the traits and coping skills and supports that help pupils thrive in a challenging environment.
Love of Learning
A love of learning can motivate pupils to take initative in their personal development journey. Teachers can help instill a love of reading by introducing their pupils to the material on a range of topics both educational, entertainment and topical.
Pupils should be encouraged to ask questions and explore issues from multiple perspectives. Pupils who love to learn are more likely to preserve in solving problems, preform well and develop new skills independently.
It is also important to think about how the curriculum is delivered to pupils- what topics are explored? The Demos report on “Learning By Doing” has some useful tips on “non-formal” lesson/working formats that deepened the amount of input and participation needed from pupils, helping to build qualities and focus, like teamwork, independence and confidence including:
- Group Work
- Long-term Projects
- Student Presentations
- Lessons Designed by Students
This area of personal development refers to the refining of a pupil’s temperament, character and behaviours. Schools and Teachers strive to help their cohorts to develop a kind, honest and respectful personality while encouraging their pupils to express their own individuality and sense of identity.
Helping your pupils to build their self-esteem is a vital part of personality development. Teachers can help build pupils self-esteem and confidence by commending them for their efforts and good qualities, and teach that it is important that we support one another. Avoid “name-calling” and labelling pupils, even when correcting pupils mistakes and troublesome behaviour.
- Etiquette is another part of personality development. Pupils should learn the importance of showing appreciation of what others do for them by saying “please” and “thank-you”. This can progress on to learning to respect people of all ages and backgrounds and show consideration for the feelings of others. When a pupil hurts another they should learn to apologize, providing and explaining the importance of being polite can motivate pupils to take initiative and help others.
Extra-Curricular Activities and Enrichment
This is something that most schools will probably already offer. However, OFSTED’s new emphasis on personal development gives extracurricular programmes a greater meaning within the student’s school experience.
Aside from activities and games such as sport, drama and music it may also be worth considering clubs that specifically focus on developing confidence and problem-solving within pupils like debates or public speaking.
Sports and games are a great way to increase personal development these activities can help pupils make strong friendships, become better team players and improve self-confidence. Promoting social interaction in this time as the pandemic has significantly decreased this during self-isolation and lockdown.
Having good communication with your pupils is a staple to make sure that your pupils have a connection to the school etc.
The Guide to Life blog “The Language We Use” offers some amazing advice on the impact of language and how to communicate effectively to aid pupils improve their beliefs in their own abilities. The blog can help form the basis of interesting INSET training exercises.
- When pupils and young people need help, the school should try and give it. But, try not to provide the solution. Instead, give them support to find the solutions themselves. So, teachers could point them in the direction of a website that might help them or ask them a question and think about their problem from a different standpoint.
- Be positive about failure! Help your pupils and young people to see the value of their mistakes and failure, and that they are the steps that lead to success. Mistakes and failures are completely normal, and are normal, important opportunities for learning- they can be used to help us find other ways to achieve our goals.
- Focused one-to-one attention that specifically targets their learning gaps, helping them to build confidence in their subjects and school life.
- The opportunity to study independently and in their own space/pace.
Personal Development Plan
Older years of primary school can learn to evaluate themselves using a personal development plan, they can ask themselves questions such as what makes them feel successful? Pupils at this age can also go on to think about what they want to achieve. This can be something relating to school life or as part of their extra activities outside of the classroom.
It is a good idea to get pupils to start thinking about their strengths and weaknesses. Inform them that they need to be honest with themselves, and then set realistic tasks on how to improve their weaknesses. But, also don’t forget to appreciate their strengths at the same time.
The main questions your pupils should ask themselves is:
- What do you want?
- Why do you want it?
- How do you plan to get there?
This may be helpful for Year 6 pupils looking to go to high school and what the future might bring. Doing this activity can improve their positivity on the matter and reduce uncertainty.
There isn’t a wrong or right plan. But we have included a personal development plan example (downloadable) which can be used in the classroom as a template for pupils. Ultimately the style and layout of your development plan are up to the school as a whole. But these are the things you should include.