A strong research base underpins Life Ready, guiding its contemporary principles and content. The intent is that the seven evidence-based principles provide the foundation for the effective delivery of Life Ready in NSW government schools.
Each of these principles should be considered when designing, delivering and evaluating the Life Ready school based program each year to best meet the needs of senior students.
Principles of Life Ready
Life Ready is planned and delivered as part of a whole-school approach to student health and wellbeing.
The successful delivery of Life Ready will be enhanced by a whole-school approach to health, safety and wellbeing. Health, safety and wellbeing are promoted through the whole-school environment, including curriculum, wellbeing programs, school policy implementation, partnerships and school ethos.
School Life Ready planning and delivery processes provide a protective and enabling environment for students that promotes choice, respect and responsibility in a non-judgmental manner, and facilitates consultation with and support from the school community.
Life Ready builds on student knowledge, understanding, attitudes and skills across Year 11 and 12.
Life Ready extends on knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes built through the K-10 PDHPE curriculum. The connection and progression of K – 10 PDHPE syllabus content is detailed below in the section How does Life Ready build on student learning from the PDHPE K-10 syllabus?
Life Ready may progress learning offered locally in other wellbeing-based programs in the junior years of schooling. In this respect, school implementation of Life Ready should address the issues and experiences that young people may encounter in their senior school and early adult years in a manner that builds connections to school delivered wellbeing programs offered at the school in Years 9 and 10.
Partnerships with parents, carers and community will maximise the positive outcomes.
For Life Ready to be successfully delivered, the support of staff, community, parents and students is essential to ensure a shared understanding of the rationale, structure and content of the program.
Advising parents and carers of the rationale and structure of the school’s Life Ready program supports better informed contributions to, and support for, implementation of the program.
Consultation with parents and carers regarding the course content will support school planning with regard to options to be provided to students and families in the event that a student opts not to participate in a particular session or content area. Communication between the school and parents and carers in relation to potentially controversial or sensitive issues covered in the course is essential. Whilst active permission is not essential for this course, school leaders and teachers still have a responsibility to inform parents or carers prior to the delivery of Life Ready to enable them to raise any concerns.
Whilst school staff may be best placed to ensure effective delivery of Life Ready, the principal may choose to draw on community resources and information to help support the school’s program. It is therefore essential that the principal approve Life Ready content. Working in partnership with health and community services increases students’ awareness of the range of services available and where to find them. Community services can also be used to enhance staff knowledge and understanding of relevant contexts and consequently assist in building the capacity of teachers to deliver effective education programs.
Staff involved in the delivery of Life Ready should have demonstrated expertise in the course content, skills in engaging and interacting with young people and a commitment to the intended outcomes of the course.
Staff involved in the planning and delivery of Life Ready can be PDHPE teachers, Year Advisors, School Counsellors, Careers Advisors or any staff who have:
- a strong understanding of the current and evolving issues and challenges young people in their school may experience, and the kinds of attitudes and behaviours young people are demonstrating
- experience and expertise in using interactive and participatory learning and teaching methods, such as discussion, case studies, scenarios, role plays and group work
- a strong rapport with students and the capacity to promote an effective and supportive learning environment.
In some instances, principals may choose to use an external provider or guest presenter with specific expertise to supplement a specific component of Life Ready.
Before the external provider is engaged, principals should:
- consider the expertise and approaches of external providers or individuals carefully
- make decisions about the use of these groups in an informed way
- review and assess the materials and delivery methods.
External providers delivering Life Ready must be:
- familiar with the outcomes and stage appropriate content
- familiar with the school’s local context
- offering services which are age appropriate and relevant to students’ needs
- integrated into the school’s existing Life Ready program to add value.
Use the Engaging external providers for curriculum implementation guidelines to determine the appropriateness of external providers for your school context and student cohort.
Some schools may access events, forums, external seminar days or camps to supplement their Life Ready program. Research suggests that one-off events are ineffective on their own. Teaching and learning activities before and after the event are needed to contextualise and supplement student learning.
Principals should consider the following when considering the use of these events as part of the Life Ready program.
- What is the learning focus and purpose of the event? How will it supplement the teaching and learning as part of the school’s Life Ready program?
- What are the main messages of the event? Do they reflect the Life Ready principles and reinforce messages through the content?
- How will teaching and learning activities be provided before and after the event and linked to the Life Ready content?
- Is counselling support and debriefing required before, during and after the event and how will this be managed?
Teaching and learning activities using interactive approaches will maximise student learning outcomes.
Interactive learning and cooperative or group approaches are the most effective for developing knowledge, attitudes and skills through the Life Ready content. They encourage innovation, creativity and critical thinking to facilitate learning about personal, social and community based issues.
Learning experiences and activities should be designed to address challenges and situations that account for the wider social context within which young people operate. Interactive learning methods include discussions, guided practice, role play, group work, simulations, use of narrative, debates and practising specific skills in particular contexts and scenarios.
Shock tactics and fear should not be used.
Research has consistently found that programs which attempt to use shock tactics or fear based activities, experiences or resources to frighten young people by focusing on disastrous consequences of risky behaviours are ineffective. These programs assume that arousing fear or anxiety through exposure to shocking images, messages or trauma will result in a predetermined positive behaviour change. This assumption is flawed.
Warnings, messages or fear based tactics may not match young people’s personal experiences or perceptions. It often results in them detaching and feeling that they are not part of an ‘at risk’ group. It is recommended that schools not engage external providers that use shock or fear tactics. This includes the use of people sharing narrative or real life stories of disastrous situations, addictions or use of graphic visual stimulus such as crashes, injury, harm, infection or symptoms of infection.
Life Ready is planned, delivered and evaluated in consultation with students, so that the program reflects local needs.
It is important that the content of the school’s Life Ready program is based on the needs, interests and diversity of students at the school. This means that, for each year, each school should develop a program that is relevant to the particular group or cohort of senior students and evaluate each cycle of implementation. Students can inform the most appropriate method of evaluation for their group, e.g. written form, online survey or verbal report.
Students should be actively involved in the planning, delivery and evaluation of Life Ready to promote a sense of ownership and to ensure that the issues and contexts to be covered are most relevant to them. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as through student committees, student surveys or student representation on a school planning team.
Implementation for students with additional learning needs
For most students with additional learning needs, the outcomes and content of the Life Ready course will be appropriate. A small percentage of students may require adjustments to personalise access to the Life Ready outcomes and content.
Selected outcomes may be demonstrated independently or with support. However, in developing programs teachers need to take into consideration the specific communication, social, health, safety and wellbeing needs of students to address the Life Ready course outcomes.
Models of delivery
Schools vary in the way in which they organise their curriculum and structure their timetables. Schools will choose to implement Life Ready in a manner that accommodates their own particular context, using the resources they have available to them.
There are three main approaches that schools can use to implement Life Ready. Schools may also choose a combination of these approaches based on their context and student needs.
The approaches are:
- Timetabled lessons
- Seminar programs
Schools can also choose online delivery and online learning activities to support any of the delivery methods. Schools should examine these approaches and select the approach or combination of approaches that best meets the needs of their students and accommodates their local context.
If you need further assistance with accessibility for any of these resources, please get in touch with us at SecondaryEducationUnit@det.nsw.edu.au