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Tough Issues, Tough Choices aims to help young people tackle problems and challenges. It addresses the difficult issues and decisions facing young people in today’s society, – those with behavioural problems and those without – and promotes the development of emotional literacy, equal opportunities and social justice

Written by Tina Rae and Brian Marris

Tough Issues, Tough Choices addresses some of the real concerns and agendas of teenagers today. It fulfils many of the objectives of the KS3-4/PSHE curriculum, and aims to promote the development of emotional literacy, equal opportunities and social justice.

Tough Issues, Tough Choices is designed to encourage students to develop their own voice, to take ownership of their own behaviours, values and responses and to become reflective young adults who are able to effectively identify and challenge social injustice. A key aspect of this challenge is the ability to counter the five faces of oppression: victimisation, marginalisation, violence, powerlessness and exploitation.

Tough Issues, Tough Choices will help you to:

  • engage the hard to teach and hard to reach

  • model a problem-solving approach to teenage dilemmas

  • enable students to develop emotional resilience

  • provide materials to assist SEAL development

  • help your students to resist unhelpful peer pressures

  • mirror young people’s real experiences with teaching and learning resources

  • support students in questioning their values and behaviours

  • record your students’ opinions before and after working with them, which can be used in your school SEF.

Tough Issues, Tough Choices will help young people to:

  • develop the ability to empathise with others and to respect and understand a different point of view

  • consider the need to develop a healthy and safe lifestyle

  • recognise and manage risk more effectively and begin to understand these risks and make safer choices

  • feel positive and value themselves as members of the school and social communities

  • gain the ability and personal power to make choices that are informed and make the most of opportunities that are presented to them

  • promote a sense of ‘peer support’ and highlight the importance of both offering and receiving this kind of support

  • develop the skills of emotional literacy – specifically the ability to label, identify and discuss the feelings they experience on a daily basis and in a range of contexts.

Easy to use – go straight to the issue you want to tackle

The handbook is divided into three sections and each section has a range of scenarios that tackle a variety of different issues:

Part one – Social Issues

Stories which tackle:

  • car theft and accident

  • teenage pregnancy

  • ASBOs and home loss

  • boys undermining/disrespecting females

  • imprisonment and getting sentenced

  • date rape

  • mixed races

  • prejudice against Travellers.

Part two – Emotional Issues

Stories dealing with:

  • homophobia

  • anorexia

  • dual culture

  • bullying a SEN pupil to suicide

  • body image

  • the death of a family member

  • a relationship split up and the pain involved
  • obesity.

Part three – Behavioural Issues

Dealing with:

  • alcohol abuse

  • bullying

  • the consequences of happy slapping

  • peer pressure and shoplifting

  • buckling under peer pressure

  • drug abuse

  • arson

  • aggressiveness and weapons.

The structure of Tough Issues, Tough Choices

Each session is divided into six parts: Student Evaluation

The students are initially presented with section A of the evaluation form, which records their attitudes to the key issues presented in the subsequent scenario.

Image Card

This is to provide a visual image and ice breaker to prompt questions prior to introducing the topic and helps to promote students’ thinking around the issue.

The Scenario

The whole story is here. Students should be allocated characters beforehand and then act out the role play. As explained in the section – the group should pick a signal to stop the role play at any point during the story.

Questions and Answers

The students are presented with a list of questions about the scenario as a small group activity. The facilliator can encourage groups to discuss and record their answers on the questions pages.

Student Evaluation

Students are asked to complete sections B and C of the evaluation form. Section B measures changes in attitude and thinking while section C measures the effectiveness of the programme and the relevance and usefulness (or otherwise) of the session. Take-home Activity

Finally, students are presented with a take-home activity intended to prompt further thinking around the issue.

Who will benefit from this resource?

  • head of behaviour support

  • head of PSHE

  • head of pastoral care

  • SEAL coordinator

  • school psychologist

  • all support staff.

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