What is PSHE?

Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education supports children and young people to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes needed to thrive as individuals and members of society.

These skills and attributes help children and young people to stay healthy and prepare them for life and work. When taught well, PSHE education helps children and young people to achieve their academic potential and equipped with skills they will need throughout their life.

The Education Act (2002) requires all schools to teach a curriculum that is “broadly based, balanced and meets the needs of pupils’. Schools must promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society, and prepare pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life” 

The Equality Act (2010) places duties on schools to address prejudice-based bullying and to prevent it from happening, and in doing so keep protected characteristics safe. The focus on identity and equality within PSHE education can help schools to fulfil this duty. 

The Children and Social Work Act (2017) states that from September 2020 the majority of PSHE education became compulsory in all schools with the introduction of statutory Relationships Education at Key Stages 1 and 2 (ages 5-11), Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in Key Stages 3 and 4 (ages 11-16) and Heath Education for Key Stages 1-4. PSHE education was already compulsory in independent schools. 

Keeping Children Safe in Education (2023) has strong connections with the PSHE education agenda. This document is statutory guidance and must be taken into account by education providers when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people.

We believe that for PSHE education to be effective it must:

  • Be delivered within a safe learning environment based on the principle that prejudice, discrimination and bullying are harmful and unacceptable.  
  • Have clear learning objectives and outcomes and ensure sessions and programmes are well planned, resourced and appropriately underpinned by solid research and evidence.
  • Be relevant, accurate and factual, including using the correct terminology.
  • Be positively inclusive in terms of: 
    • Age; 
    • Disability; 
    • Gender identity; 
    • Pregnancy and maternity; 
    • Race; 
    • Religion or belief 
    • Sex; 
    • Sexual orientation
  • Be designed to include the development of knowledge, skills and values to support positive life choices.
  • Use positive messaging, that does not cause shame or victim blaming and is trauma-informed.
  • Challenge attitudes and values within society, such as perceived social norms and those portrayed in the media.  
  • Be reflective of the age and stage of the children and young people and be tailored to the environment and group.
  • Utilise active skill-based learning techniques to encourage active participation. 
  • Ensure that children and young people are aware of their rights, including their right to access confidential advice and support services within the boundaries of safeguarding.
  • Be delivered by trained, confident and competent professionals.  
  • Empower and involve children and young people as participants, advocates and evaluators in the development of PSHE education.