February 25, 2015 by Sian Rowland
Sometimes I’m lucky enough to visit some interesting places for work and this week I was invited to shadow some year Eight Students as they took a tour around Life Zone at Sutton Life Centre.
The centre is a community hub in the London Borough of Sutton and has a state of the art library, café and other facilities. Step through a plain door and you find yourself in what looks like a film set, however, complete with shops, houses and even a nightclub. After a introductory film shown on the vast video wall, pupils were sent off to explore the house.
Each room in the house was themed around a problem or concern that young people might experience- in the dining room we meet two girls discussing coercion; in the bedroom we’re with a teen who is talking to a stranger online; in the living room we find out about fire hazards and in the kitchen we learn about healthy eating for teens.
After the house we sit on a train station platform to learn about public transport safety and behaviour while a wall of films rushes by complete with sound. It’s a bit like being in one of those 3-D simulators at a theme park and the pupils were transfixed.
The final room was about recycling and climate change and graphics and sound whizzed around our heads.
Each section was supported by a centre leader and additional answers diligently addressed by an accompanying (and very engaging) police officer.
What I really loved about this tour was how teen-centric it was. One of the criticisms of PSHE is that it can be out of date or irrelevant to students’ needs. This felt exciting and thought-provoking- the actors in the films were youngsters and the problems felt relevant.
The tour lasted around two hours and although loads of information was crammed into a short period, it didn’t feel rushed at any point and there was plenty of time to reflect and think.
As part of a planned PSHE programme this tour would really support and enhance classroom learning. Even the teachers seemed to be having fun and that’s got to be the ultimate stamp of approval!
If you’re interested in finding out more, take a look at the website here. If you’re a teacher, ask for a complimentary tour. It’s well worth a visit.