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Learning for Living and Dr Mary Gurney: In memory

Dr Mary Gurney was an inspirational educationalist, passionate about improving the lives and well-being of all children.

It was Mary’s greatest wish that these resources be made freely available to all schools. Her family would like to honour this wish as a lasting legacy to her hard work and life-long dedication to helping children, their parents/carers and teachers alike. Mary with a number of years’ teaching experience, developed an integrated PSE scheme for a secondary school. She studied the impact of PSE on pupil behaviour, attitudes and relationships through practitioner research affiliated to Bath University.

‘Learning for Living’ was developed in post-doctoral action research in a primary school wanting help with behaviour. Mary constructed a spiral PSHE curriculum using Development Group Work methods. Every lesson was trialled, assessed and modified. The resulting program led to a significant improvement in the children's behaviour and approach to work. The dissemination of the spiral curriculum was supported by Gloucestershire LEA, and evidence of the significant positive impact of ‘Learning for Living’ on behaviour and attitudes was collected in work with a number of city, urban and rural schools. Gloucestershire L.E.A. also supported the development of parallel materials to actively engage parents.

Mary began her career as a social worker. She always believed in the importance of teachers and parents working together to enrich children’s education. ‘Learning for Living’ offers and encourages this valuable and innovative dimension by engaging parents.

Learning for Living PSHE Books and Staff Support Programme  

The fully-planned spiral curriculum provides detailed lesson plans, with all the resources required to deliver high quality PSHE. It is ideal for the busy teacher because it is a complete, self-contained resource, with everything ready to use, including an integrated approach to assessment that will provide evidence for OFSTED.

Developed by Mary, the interactive and inclusive teaching and learning methods make a direct impact on the behaviour, attitudes and relationships of the children and help them to develop self-confidence and resilience.

Topics covered include developing supportive and inclusive relationships in the class and school; developing communication skills; identity; preventing teasing and bullying; friendships; family life and family relationships; active citizenship; mental well-being; internet safety; safety in and out of the home; healthy living; alcohol, smoking and drug education; and changes at puberty, with optional materials for primary sex education.

Alongside the materials for school there are downloadable parent pages, providing a unique and innovative way of engaging parents in partnership throughout the programme. ‘Learning4Living’ offers guidance to both teachers and parents when discussing sensitive issues and suggests activities that will help parents with their children at home. Children love both school and home discussions and related activities. As well as support for children and parents, a support program for staff is also available.  

Mary was so passionate about her work with schools and it is her gift to provide these resources to help support those in school settings and parents. This is her legacy to Gloucestershire Schools she so wanted to support.