Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education is a planned programme of learning opportunities and experiences that help children and young people grow and develop as individuals and as members of families and of social and economic communities.
This definition was developed by the PSHE Education Strategic Partners Group – a group comprising representatives of national government and non-government organisations concerned with PSHE education.
PSHE in the National Curriculum
The national curriculum states that ‘all schools should make provision for personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), drawing on good practice’. PSHE education contributes to schools’ statutory duties outlined in the Education Act 2002 and the Academies Act 2010 to provide a balanced and broadly-based curriculum and is essential to Ofsted judgements in relation to personal development, behaviour, welfare and safeguarding. The relationships and health aspects of PSHE education will be compulsory in all schools from 2020.
In June 2019, the Department for Education launched the final statutory guidance to accompany introduction of compulsory health education, relationships education and relationships and sex education (RSE) in 2020.The national curriculum also states that ‘all schools should make provision for personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), drawing on good practice’. PSHE education contributes to schools’ statutory duties outlined in the Education Act 2002 and the Academies Act 2010 to provide a balanced and broadly-based curriculum and is essential to Ofsted judgements in relation to personal development, behaviour, welfare and safeguarding. The relationships and health aspects of PSHE education will be compulsory in all schools from 2020.
Further statutory duties
Under section 78 of the Education Act 2002 and the Academies Act 2010, schools must provide a ‘balanced and broadly-based curriculum’ which promotes ‘the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society, and prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life’.
PSHE education makes a major contribution to schools fulfilling this duty.
Schools also have duties in relation to promoting pupil wellbeing and pupil safeguarding (Children Act 2004) and community cohesion (Education Act 2006). Paragraph 41 of statutory guidance on Keeping Children Safe in Education, the Department for Education states that ‘schools should consider how children may be taught about safeguarding, including online, through teaching and learning opportunities. This may include covering relevant issues through PSHE…’
Relevant issues which may be covered in PSHE education include: child sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse, sharing of sexual images, the impact of online pornography on pupils, the dangers of extremism and radicalisation, forced marriage, honour-based violence and female genital mutilation.
The Equality Act 2010 also places duties on schools not just to address prejudice-based bullying but also to help to prevent it happening, and in doing so to keep protected characteristic groups safe. PSHE education, with its focus on identity and equality, can help schools to fulfil this duty.
Maintained schools have further statutory duties to promote children and young people’s wellbeing (defined in the Children Act 2004 as ‘the promotion of physical and mental health; emotional wellbeing; social and economic wellbeing; education, training and recreation; recognition of the contribution made by children to society; and protection from harm and neglect.’) and promote community cohesion (Education and Inspections Act 2006; Education Act 2002).
The new Ofsted education inspection framework is in effect from September 2019. There is more scope for PSHE education to be a focus of inspections under this new framework in providing evidence for key judgements, particularly ‘personal development’.
PSHE education also makes a unique contribution to safeguarding; helping schools to fulfil their statutory duty to teach pupils to keep themselves safe. See ‘Keeping children safe in education’ statutory guidance for schools and colleges on safeguarding.
The 2013 Ofsted PSHE report highlights the relationship between a school’s PSHE provision and overall effectiveness, noting ’a close correlation between the grades that the schools in the survey were awarded for overall effectiveness in their last section 5 inspection and their grade for PSHE education’. Our case study series explores this relationship in greater detail.
Independent school inspections
Independent schools inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) are required to have schemes of work for PSHE which reflect the aims and ethos of the school and that are ‘implemented effectively’. These have to be available via the school website or submitted to ISI prior to an inspection.
[Adapted from PSHE Association 2020] – https://www.pshe-association.org.uk/curriculum-and-resources/curriculum
Further information, guidance & updates
For all updates and guidance on the PSHE and the RSHE Curriculum, please go to PSHE developments.