PSHE education – working definitions and relationships
These definitions and explanations were developed by the PSHE education Strategic Partners Group - a group comprising representatives of national government and non-government organisations concerned with PSHE education.
What is PSHE education?
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.
Why is PSHE education provision important to schools?
PSHE education makes a major contribution to schools’ statutory responsibilities to
- promote children and young people’s wellbeing (Wellbeing is defined in the Children Act 2004 as the promotion of physical and mental health; emotional wellbeing; social and economic well being; education, training and recreation; recognition of the contribution made by children to society; and protection from harm and neglect.)
- achieve the whole curriculum aims
- promote community cohesion
The relationship between PSHE education provision and school ethos is important. An effective school ethos requires:
– effective relationships between all members of the school community
– pupils to play an active part in decision making
– school policies to be compatible with what is taught in PSHE education
Why is PSHE education important to children and young people?
See our "During the next 15 years I am going to..."
poster which illustrates PSHE education's scope and potential
to help young people negotiate their lives, now and in the future.
PSHE education equips children and young people with knowledge, understanding, attitudes and practical skills to live healthy, safe, productive, fulfilled, capable and responsible lives. PSHE education encourages them to be enterprising and supports them in making effective transitions, positive learning and career choices and in managing their finances effectively. It also enables children and young people to reflect on and clarify their own values and attitudes, and explore the complex and sometimes conflicting range of values and attitudes they encounter now and in the future.
What should be taught?
The current content for primary schools is set out in the Frameworks for PSHE and citizenship for key stages 1 and 2 (National Curriculum Handbook for primary teachers, QCA 1999).
In the secondary curriculum PSHE education is described in the programmes of study for personal wellbeing and for economic wellbeing and financial capability at both key stages 3 and 4. Personal wellbeing draws together personal, social and health education, including sex education and the social and emotional aspects of learning, while economic wellbeing draws together economic understanding, careers education, enterprise, financial capability and work-related learning. The programmes of study support the statutory requirements for careers education and sex education at key stages 3 and 4 and work-related learning at key stage 4.
The programmes of study should be used flexibly to ensure that PSHE education programmes are appropriate to pupils’ abilities and backgrounds. They should provide opportunities to address real life and topical issues and show pupils that they can make a difference to their own and others’ lives.
As a teacher, how can you help explain PSHE education and its benefits to parents and/or governors?
We have put together useful guides for parents/carers
(and anyone who wants to find out more about PSHE). One document gives an overview of PSHE education and others cover what's taught in Sex and Relationships Education; what's taught about alcohol and drugs and advice on bullying.
We have also written a briefing on PSHE education especially for school governors.
Should PSHE education be assessed?
Assessment is an esssential and integral part of effective teaching and learning in all subjects including PSHE education. It checks that learning is taking place and shows what learners can do well, and where and how they can do better. It allows progress to be recognised and celebrated and it informs the next steps and priorities of both teachers and learners.
How is PSHE education provided in schools?
Ofsted has stated that PSHE education programmes are most effective when they include some specific lessons with separate curriculum time. However, in addition, they may also include:
- learning opportunities across the curriculum
- explicit opportunities in other curriculum subjects
- whole school and extended timetable activities
- specific projects
- information, support and guidance on specific areas of learning and development
- learning through involvement in the life of the school and wider community.
These opportunities, wherever they occur, should be planned, coordinated, assessed, monitored and evaluated. Children and young people should be involved in this process, influencing provision from the start as well as having a say in how learning develops.
PSHE education is most effective when it uses a wide variety of active learning and assessment approaches and provides frequent opportunities for children and young people to reflect on their own and other people’s experiences so they can use and apply their learning in their own lives. Active involvement in the life of the school and wider community should help young people recognise and manage risk and take increasing responsibility for themselves and their choices.
What is the relationship between PSHE education and personal development?
PSHE education makes a significant contribution to children and young people’s personal development but is not synonymous with it. The promotion of young people’s personal development (which includes their social development) is a fundamental aspect of education. It underpins other learning. Personal development is enhanced as children and young people develop the skills they need to grow and develop as individuals and members of society. All aspects of a child and young person’s experience at home, in school and out of school contribute to personal and social development. It is a function of all subjects and curriculum areas.
PSHE education contributes to personal development by helping children and young people to build their personal identities, confidence and self-esteem, make career choices and understand what influences their decisions including financial ones. It enables them to recognise, accept and shape their identities, to understand and accommodate difference and change, to manage emotions and to communicate constructively in a variety of settings. Developing an understanding of themselves, empathy and the ability to work with others will help them to form and maintain good relationships, and better enjoy and manage their lives.