Learning for Life (PSHE)

Learning for Life, often referred to as Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE), is crucial for personal development and provides a framework to explore topical issues.

Head of Department: Miss Katy Tinman.

Learning for Life (PSHE) is a compulsory element in all secondary schools which aims to equip young people with the knowledge, understanding, attitudes and practical skills required to lead confident, healthy and independent lives.

The planned curriculum of Learning for Life at Downe House aims to help our girls to understand how they are developing personally and socially, and tackles many of the moral, social and cultural issues that are part of growing up.

Learning for Life is delivered to all girls at Downe House from Remove (Year 7) to Upper Fifth (Year 11). It involves one 40-minute lesson per week and is facilitated by dedicated teaching staff and augmented with both internal and external specialists.

Fundamental to Learning for Life is the need to discuss sensitive, controversial and challenging social and moral issues, and to make sense of them in the context of the girls’ own life experiences now and in the future. We aim to provide an environment that creates a climate of trust, cooperation and support where the girls can share their feelings, explore their values and attitudes, express their opinions safely and consider those of others without attracting negative feedback.

The three main strands to the programme are:

Health and Wellbeing: Settling into boarding, friends and friendships, body image, self-esteem, online safety, nutrition, mental health issues, risk management and coping with changes (including grief and loss).
Relationships: Identity, friends and family, power, conflict resolution, consent, diversity, equality and sexual health.
Living in the Wider World: Enterprise, employability and economic welllbeing (including financial literacy and eco-sustainability).

Learning for Life is a non-graded subject and often involves interactive resource material, group tasks as well as debate and discussion. The girls respond positively to the relaxed, discursive nature of the lessons and generally participate with enthusiasm and thoughtful comment.

The Helix

The Helix is the home of the Learning for Life programme. It has a couple of spaces including a more informal classroom and a quiet device-free snug. The ‘classroom’ is deliberately designed without desks or whiteboards in order to facilitate open discussion around a host of sensitive topics. Find out more about The Helix.


Meet the Learning for Life Department

The Department consists of four passionate advocates for good health and wellbeing; each of whom is also involved in a wide variety of pastoral and academic aspects of the School.

Miss Katy Tinman

Miss Tinman heads the department, bringing a wealth of knowledge and acumen from her applied and social science degree combined with a perpetually positive outlook (from up North!) to the Department. She is the Assistant Housemistress in Aisholt and is working towards a Masters in Leadership of Schools’ Mental Health and Wellbeing, which will add extra depth and insight for the Department and School.

For further information please contact Miss Katy Tinman, Head of Learning for Life; Email: tinmank@downehouse.net

Miss Ruth Prentice

Miss Prentice has been a passionate member of teaching and pastoral staff for 4 years and is very enthusiastic to now join the Learning for Life team. She looks forward to encouraging the same spirit of openness, honesty, curiosity, acceptance and solidarity in her LfL lessons as she does in her RS classes.

Mrs Kim Collingwood

Mrs Collingwood also has a PE degree and combines this with her main pastoral role as Housemistress of Hermitage to deliver the PSHE curriculum. Always good-humoured, she has a warm smile for all and enjoys fun, interactive lessons.

Miss Kerry Treacy

Miss Treacy’s strength in Drama allows her to observe and analyse the world around her whilst engaging with theatre in a fun and exciting way. Her love for pastoral work in Sixth Form lends itself nicely to the teaching of PSHE.

Mrs Sophie Hughes

Mrs Hughes has a degree in Sports Science and enjoys teaching thought-provoking, practical and interactive lessons. Joining Downe House as Housemistress of Darwin, she brings with her knowledge of teaching PSHE and pastoral experience as a Head of Year in her previous school.

Finding Balance

Wellbeing has a huge focus at Downe House beyond the curriculum: knowing how to eat healthily, sleep well, exercise, relax and manage stress are every bit as important as other aspects of School life. We are keen to give your daughter the toolkit to find balance in her life and the self-awareness to ask for help when she needs it.

Read about how we encourage our pupils to find balance and discover self-care.


Tours & Open Mornings

The best way to find out more about Downe House is to experience it for yourself. Book a personal tour or join us at one of our Open Mornings, available throughout the year.