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PSD provides ‘refreshing GCSE alternative’ and improves learners’ focus

Of the 17 students who completed the Personal and Social Development (PSD) Level 2 qualification at Integrated College Dungannon in Co Tyrone last year, all went on to sixth form or college.

“We heard about (PSD) from another school in Northern Ireland that was having success with the qualification,” said Lesley-Ann Hetherington, Head of Learning for Life and Work at Integrated College Dungannon.

“There are a lot of exams at GCSE and it places a lot of pressure on students. We enrolled some of them in PSD, which is more accessible and practical. Rather than failing in a GCSE subject, all of them succeeded in PSD, picking up another qualification and boosting their confidence.”

Because PSD is equivalent to a B grade at GCSE in Northern Ireland, the students can use the qualification to meet entry requirements for post-16 education.

“For some students, doing PSD made the difference in being accepted into sixth form and college," said Lesley-Ann. "Therefore, it has supported their progression and given them more options. PSD suits our learners because it provides an opportunity to get involved in practical activities, which they really enjoy. We’ve found that this helps improve their focus in school.”

Currently more than 55 students at the school are undertaking PSD, with four 45 minute lessons timetabled each week.

Recent activities have included:

  • working as a team to create a healthy eating cookbook
  • working with a councillor to reduce the amount of litter in the local area
  • learning about recycling by visiting a recycling centre and writing up findings

“PSD provides a refreshing alternative for the GCSE learners,” said Lesley-Ann. “Because assessment in PSD is based on a portfolio of evidence, it gives learners another way of evidencing their achievements as well as providing relief to those who do not thrive under assessment by exam.

“I enjoy delivering PSD because there is such a wide variety of units to choose from. This, along with the flexibility of the course, ensures we meet the needs of each learner. Next year, my aim is for all our students to do PSD to complement their GCSE studies.”