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Information for primary schools

The exisiting non-statutory curriculum framework for PSHE education in primary schools is available on the DfE website:


Progression from the primary curriculum to the secondary curriculum

The secondary curriculum places emphasis on developing coherent learning experiences with relevance for young people – linking rather than separating the individual subjects. It provides a flexible framework within which schools will be encouraged to focus on the needs of the pupils, local issues and specific priorities for the individual school. The curriculum definition includes all the planned learning experiences in the school and beyond so that learning outside the classroom takes on a new importance. The whole school, whole curriculum approach is familiar territory to PSHE coordinators and schools working towards Healthy Schools status. The difference this time is that all school staff – including senior leaders and heads of department for core and foundation subjects – will be encouraged to plan the curriculum in this way.

It seems sensible for primary colleagues to begin to consider the implications of the changes to the secondary curriculum for their own work.

The curriculum is aims led, flexible and coherent. The aims place personal development and the acquisition of personal, learning and thinking skills at the heart of the curriculum and reflect the Every Child Matters (ECM) outcomes stating that the curriculum should enable all young people to become:

•    successful learners who enjoy learning, make progress and achieve
•    confident individuals who are able to live safe, healthy and fulfilling lives
•    responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society

Scope for personalisation and taking account of local issues and priorities enables schools to develop their curriculum to meet the needs of their pupils and their specific community circumstances. Whole curriculum design should link learning to life outside school and make connections between subjects and cross-curricular themes and dimensions.

Three questions are used for curriculum design, development and implementation. These are equally relevant for primary schools planning their curriculum.

•    what are we trying to achieve?
•    how do we organise learning?
•    how well are we achieving our aims?

The cross curricular dimensions reflect some of the major ideas and challenges that face society and have significance for individuals in the 21st century. These can provide unifying themes to give learning relevance and help young people make sense of the world. It will be interesting to consider these dimensions in relation to the learning opportunities offered in primary schools as the secondary curriculum needs to build on the primary offer and value the wide range of knowledge, skills and experiences pupils bring to year 7. The curriculum dimensions are:

•    identity and cultural diversity
•    healthy lifestyles
•    community participation
•    enterprise
•    sustainable futures and the global dimension
•    technology and the media
•    creativity and critical thinking

In the secondary curriculum PSHE assumes greater prominence than previously. PSHE education (personal, social, health and economic education) is described in two programmes of study - personal wellbeing and  economic wellbeing and financial capability.

These programmes of study draw together personal, social and health education, including sex and relationship education, the social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL), careers education, enterprise, financial capability and work-related learning. PSHE education makes a significant contribution to pupils’ personal development alongside the contribution of all other subjects and curriculum experiences. It is essential to achieving the curriculum aims and makes an explicit contribution to all seven of the cross curricular dimensions. Primary colleagues may wish to consider their own provision for the areas of curriculum now encompassed by the programmes of study for PSHE education.

The programmes of study for PSHE education are designed in exactly the same way as those for other subjects all of which have as their main focus key concepts and processes rather than content. Each programme of study includes:

  • an importance statement describing why the subject matters and how it contributes to the aims
  • key concepts that define the big ideas that underpin the subject
  • key processes - the essential skills of the subject
  • range and content setting out the breadth of subject matter from which teachers should draw to develop the key concepts and skills and
  • curriculum opportunities that enhance and enrich learning, increasing its relevance and making links to the wider curriculum 

See Secondary curriculum information for more detail on the key concepts and processes


Where does Citizenship fit in?


In primary schools citizenship forms part of the non-statutory framework for PSHE and Citizenship, and in secondary schools it is a discrete statutory curriculum area with national curriculum orders.

Citizenship is distinct from PSHE, although there are areas that overlap.

Citizenship non-statutory guidelines from the National Curriculum

Both emphasise the development of skills and exploration of attitudes. A useful distinction is that citizenship supports pupils' development in making a positive contribution to society, such as political decision makers , as opposed to PSHE which supports pupils' development in leading emotionally confident, healthy and responsible lives as members of society.

For more information on support with teaching of citizenship visit the Association for Citizenship Teaching website