A local stimulus for effective learning in PSE
The PSE coordinator in a small rural primary school was concerned about the impact that the construction of a major gas pipeline in the local area was having on learners. Some learners were worried about the potential damage to their local environment and increasingly there were arguments between children who had differing views about the pipeline. Following discussions with the Head teacher and Year 5 and 6 class teachers, it was agreed that for half a term they would use the construction of the pipeline as a focus for PSE class activities.
Using newspaper articles, television news reports and the internet, learners researched the reasons for the construction of the pipeline. They also invited a representative of the power company to visit the school to take part in a question and answer session about the pipeline and energy use in general. Concepts such as loss of biodiversity were brought to life and understood. Learners began to appreciate how local environments and economies can be affected by national decisions. They also found out about the implications of human activities and the actions that individuals can take in response to local issues. Once the learners had a clearer understanding of the potential advantages and disadvantages of the pipeline, they held a debate in which individual learners spoke for / against the construction of the pipeline. The findings were used to prepare a presentation which Year 6 learners delivered through role play in a whole school assembly. This helped to raise awareness of the reasons for the pipeline with younger learners and parents. The materials were also displayed on the Eco School notice board. Finally Year 6 peer supporters used their improved understanding of the issues to mediate any disagreements about the pipeline between learners on the playground.
Links with the PSE framework
The project provided learning about the links between society, the economy and the environment.
Learners were given opportunities to develop their thinking skills as they:
- identifed links between cause and effect
- distinguished between facts, beliefs and opinions
- formed personal opinions and made informed decisions.
Learners were given opportunities to develop their communication skills as they:
- listened carefully, questioned and responded to others
- expressed their views and ideas confidently through a range of appropriate methods
- contributed to class discussions and took part in debates.
This project contributed to the Sustainable development and global citizenship theme. Learners were given opportunities to:
- appreciate the natural world as a source of inspiration
- take an active interest in varied aspects of life in school and the wider environment.
Learners were also given opportunities to understand:
- how the environment can be affected by the decisions we make individually and collectively
Once work on the construction of the pipeline has been completed, the school has agreed to ‘adopt’ a small section of woodland. The area will be used as an outdoor classroom and learners will record changes to the area each term as a video diary.