Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education is a non-statutory curriculum subject which develops the knowledge, skills and attributes all pupils need in order to keep healthy and safe and to prepare them for life and work in modern Britain.
PSHE education provides a framework though which such key skills, attributes and knowledge can be developed and applied to some of the most pressing issues facing young people today: from mental health to understanding the importance of staying safe online, healthy and safe relationships, making sense of media messages, challenging extreme views and having the skills and attributes to negotiate a potentially volatile labour market. Evidence shows that well-delivered PSHE programmes have an impact on both academic attainment and non-academic outcomes for pupils, particularly the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.
The PSHE Association programme of study for key stages 1–5 covers three core themes – ‘health and wellbeing’, ‘relationships’ and ‘living in the wider world’ and provides further information on the subject’s scope.
The PSHE Association is the national body for PSHE education. We are a membership organisation for PSHE practitioners and a registered charity. Our aim is to ensure that every school pupil gets the high-quality PSHE education they deserve. To help us achieve this, we support over 21,000 PSHE practitioners nationally with advice, training and resources. The Association campaigns for PSHE education to get the same (statutory) status on the curriculum as other subjects.
Becoming a member gives individuals and schools access to the best of what we have to offer, from quality member-only resources and training, to regular policy and practice updates and one-to-one support by phone, email or in person.
Our growing community of PSHE education professionals makes a huge contribution to the quality and status of PSHE nationally - we would really value having you on board.
If you’re not quite ready to become a member then joining our mailing list will give you a flavour of the advice and PSHE news we provide. You will also find a wealth of useful information on this website, including our ‘curriculum’ page and ‘resources’, a selection of which are free for all to access.
CPD training and conferences
We offer a suite of CPD training courses on planning, coordinating and assessing PSHE education as well as preparing for Ofsted and Independent Schools Inspectorate inspections. We also run courses on specific aspects of PSHE, such as relationships and sex education, mental health and online safety. Besides our calendar courses we can deliver bespoke training in your school, academy chain or local area.
We also hold national conferences on the latest policy and practice developments, including areas of greatest concern to our members. Our annual conferences have in the past, for example, covered topics such as pupil mental health and safeguarding pupils through PSHE education.
How do I sign up for membership?
Visit our membership section for an overview of member benefits, types of membership and the online registration form. We are adding new resources and features all the time so don’t miss out on what we have to offer.
Paying by card online gives you instant access to member-only resources and other benefits or you can choose to request and invoice and access will be granted as soon as payment is received.
How do I renew an existing membership?
You will be sent a reminder to renew before your membership is due to expire, or you can log-in at any time and easily renew through the ‘my profile’ page. If you have any problems with your renewal then feel free to call us on 020 7922 7950 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the difference between individual, concessionary and organisation membership?
Schools and other organisations should sign up for £120 annual organisational membership as it allows all staff to take advantage of our member benefits including access to member-only PSHE resources, regular updates on policy and practice, personalised support and more.
Individual memberships are £45 a year and allow one person to access these benefits. A concessionary rate of £15 is available to trainee teachers, newly qualified teachers and teaching assistants for their first year of membership.
Visit our membership section for an overview of member benefits, types of membership and the online registration form.
Does the PSHE Association offer any membership discount for groups of schools?
Yes. Local authorities, academy chains, independent school groups or other collections of schools wishing to sign up together are eligible for reductions in membership fees. Visit our local authority services page for more, or contact us to discuss your requirements.
There is an expectation on all schools to provide PSHE education. The introduction to the national curriculum states that all state schools ‘should make provision for personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), drawing on good practice'. Department for Education guidance also states that PSHE education is ‘an important and necessary part of all pupils’ education’.
Academies, free schools and independent schools are not bound by the national curriculum. However, 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. Our Curriculum section outlines these in detail.
The expectations that are currently placed on independent schools are stronger in many ways than expectations on state schools when it comes to PSHE education, as they are required to have schemes of work for PSHE education which are implemented effectively (read more below about expectations on independent schools).
Unlike other subjects, PSHE education is not however, statutory on the curriculum. There are widespread calls to make PSHE statutory in order to address patchiness in provision nationally and ensure adequate curriculum time is allocated to the subject.
In response, the Department for Education introduced amendments to the Children and Social Work Act 2017 that will make relationships and sex (RSE) education compulsory in all secondary schools in England and ‘relationships education’ compulsory in all primary schools in England from 2019. The Act also gives the Government power to introduce statutory PSHE education in its entirety, pending consultation. An engagement and consultation process on whether to make PSHE statutory and on what the subject will cover – including its relationship to RSE – is currently underway, including a ‘call for evidence’ which closed on 12 February 2018.
Is my school required to publish details of our PSHE education curriculum and SRE/RSE provision?
As outlined in Schedule 4 of the School Information (England) Regulations 2012), there is a requirement for schools to publish details of their curriculum on their website. In January 2014, the Department for Education updated its timeline of mandatory information for schools, making it clear that a school’s PSHE curriculum should be published under this requirement and contain the same level of detail for PSHE education as for other subjects.
Under the Education Act 1996, all maintained schools are required to have an up to date policy on sex and relationships education (SRE). While this is not currently required of academies and independent schools, it is still good practice, and most academies, including primary academies, do have a policy on SRE. When relationships education and RSE become statutory in September 2019, all schools will, however, have to have a policy.
Any RSE delivered is part of the school curriculum and details of it should therefore be published on the school website under Schedule 4 of School Information Regulations 2012.
What policies should my school have in place for PSHE and SRE/RSE?
There is no statutory requirement for any school to have a whole-school PSHE education policy, however many schools choose to and we would recommend having a policy for such an important and potentially sensitive subject. Please see our guidance on writing your PSHE education policy.
As outlined above, all maintained state schools must have a policy for sex and relationships education (SRE). Academies and independent schools that teach SRE have to have ‘due regard’ to the DfE statutory guidance on SRE but do not have to have a policy. When relationships education and RSE become statutory in September 2019, all schools will, however, have to have a policy, under the Children and Social Work Act 2017.
For further information visit our curriculum page
How does PSHE contribute to Ofsted and ISI inspections?
PSHE education contributes to Ofsted judgements under section 5 inspections under the 2015 Common Inspections Framework, particularly in the areas of personal development, behaviour and welfare, as well as leadership and management - which includes the effectiveness of safeguarding. Independent schools inspected by the Independent School Inspectorate (ISI) are also required to have schemes of work for PSHE which are ‘implemented effectively’.
For further information on the importance of PSHE to Ofsted inspections read a blog post by Janet Palmer, former HMI Ofsted lead for the subject, which addresses this issue in detail.
PSHE education also contributes to general school standards and Ofsted’s 2013 report on PSHE emphasised that schools judged as outstanding almost always have outstanding PSHE education. We also provide training for members on preparing for Ofsted and ISI inspections through your school’s PSHE provision. Visit our training page for more details on these courses and other CPD we provide.
Many independent schools recognise the value of a comprehensive PSHE education programme as to an education that goes beyond academic attainment, and prepares pupils for life’s opportunities and challenges. The expectations that are currently placed on independent schools are stronger in many ways than expectations on state schools:
To comply with the Independent school Standards Regulations, independent schools must have schemes of work for PSHE education that are implemented effectively (although they don’t have to deliver the scheme of work through a timetabled lesson called PSHE).
Yes. We work closely with a number of local authorities throughout the country to support their schools’ PSHE provision. We can tailor our services to support local educational, public health and safeguarding priorities. We offer bulk membership packages to all schools within an LA, and bespoke guidance, training and support to school and local authority staff. Find out more about services for local authorities here.
We regularly work with government, corporate and sector partners on a range of projects. These include developing resources or guidance on various PSHE related topics, from mental health and healthy relationships to skills for work such as communication and teamwork. For example, we have worked with the Home Office on developing resources to support their ‘Disrespect NoBody’ campaign, quality assured LifeSkills by Barclays resources, developed the Premier League’s ‘Primary Stars’ PSHE resources and worked closely with the NSPCC on co-developing resources for schools.
We also welcome support from leading organisations for our campaign to make PSHE education statutory on the curriculum. Read more and join our campaign.
If your organisation is developing, or thinking of developing PSHE teaching resources we can provide advice during this development stage with a view to ensuring the completed resource meets standards of best practice and achieves our Quality Mark. Publishers can also submit completed resources for quality assurance.
Resources that achieve our Quality Mark are featured on our site and can be promoted to our community of over 21,000 PSHE practitioners by email and social media. Find out more about our quality assurance process and achieving our Quality Mark.
The PSHE Association regularly publishes comprehensive guidance and resources on anything from teaching about issues related to mental health, to useful tools such as our planning toolkits for primary and secondary PSHE education. We also publish regular updates with the latest policy and practice news. Visit our curriculum and resources section to access our resources and guidance.
Besides resources we produce ourselves, our resource library contains a number of resources published by others that have met our quality assurance criteria and achieved our Quality Mark. These can also be found in our resources section or publishers can visit our quality assurance section for more information on obtaining our Quality Mark.
The PSHE Association Programme of Study for key stages 1-5 was developed in consultation with a wide variety of agencies and practitioners and is based on the needs of today’s pupils and schools.
Our Programme of Study for PSHE education aims to develop skills and attributes such as resilience, self-esteem, risk-management, team working and critical thinking in the context of learning grouped into three core themes: health and wellbeing, relationships and living in the wider world (including economic wellbeing and aspects of careers education).
PSHE education must be relevant and tailored to pupils’ unique needs. It is virtually impossible to create a single curriculum for PSHE education, especially in such a diverse country where the needs and personal circumstances of pupils vary so widely. We expect schools to adapt and edit our Programme of Study to meet both universal needs and the unique needs of their pupils. It is also important to bear in mind that it is a programme of study and not a scheme of work (for year by year detail, see our planning toolkits for primary and secondary PSHE education).
Schools should draw on the Programme of Study, taking into account their local data, the curricula for other subjects - such as RE, Citizenship and Science - and the time available, to design schemes of work tailored to their own pupils’ needs.
The Department for Education introduced amendments to the Children and Social Work Act that will make relationships and sex (RSE) education compulsory in all secondary schools in England and ‘relationships education’ compulsory in all primary schools in England from 2019. The Act received Royal Assent on 27 April. An engagement and consultation process has commenced in 2017 to establish guidance and content for this provision.
Currently, the status of SRE differs across types of schools, as shown in the table below:
In addition to the statutory Department for Education guidance for SRE (2000) referenced in the table above, the Department for Education has formally recognised the supplementary guidance document, produced by the PSHE Association, Brook and the Sex Education Forum in 2014. Schools designing their SRE provision should refer to both the statutory guidance from 2000 and this supplementary guidance. The DfE is also seeking to update the 2000 SRE guidance as part of their 2018 review, in preparation for the introduction of statutory relationships education and RSE from September 2019.
In any school that provides SRE/RSE, parents have the right to withdraw their children from all or part of SRE (excluding learning about reproduction and human development within national curriculum science).
You can find out more about teaching SRE/RSE here.
How many hours of PSHE should be taught per week?
We believe PSHE education should be treated in the same way as any other subject, and should be consistent with the timetabling in individual schools. As a very rough guide, we suggest one hour per week of discrete PSHE education in key stages 1 to 4, as part of a whole school approach with opportunities to enhance the learning through other subjects and events.
Should PSHE education be taught as a separate lesson or integrated into other subjects across the curriculum?
PSHE education should be taught in discrete lessons which then link across to, and can be enhanced by, other subjects. Discrete lessons are needed because, while many subjects contribute to pupils’ personal and social development –– just as all subjects contribute to pupils’ literacy – there are a number of fundamental problems with attempting to integrate PSHE into the curriculum at the expense of discrete lessons.
It is virtually impossible to achieve continuity, progression and meaningful assessment from a cross-curricular approach. PSHE learning objectives and outcomes can be lost as other subject objectives and outcomes become prioritised.
Our Subject Specialist Nick Boddington notes:
" Our brains work on connections. PSHE education provides a place in the curriculum where pupils can draw their academic learning together, make these connections and apply their skills in the context of a real life situation. Whilst all subjects support literacy, it’s hard to imagine doing away with English lessons in favour of a cross-curricular provision."
Can the PSHE Association provide any support with lesson planning?
The PSHE Association has developed a lesson planning tool which offers guidance on in the steps in planning an engaging and effective PSHE education lesson plan. It provides a framework teachers can use to clarify their thinking before they write a detailed session or lesson plan. It highlights the thought process that teachers may find helpful to follow when planning a lesson and developing its objectives. This lesson planning tool is appropriate for teachers in both primary and secondary schools.
We have also developed a teacher’s checklist for PSHE lesson plans, which provides a useful tool for reviewing the quality of lesson plans and for self-evaluation. This and the lesson planning tool above, support teachers to plan effective lessons that meet the specific needs of their pupils. Whilst quality assured lesson plans are available for a number of topic areas within PSHE education, we would always recommend planning your own lessons for your own pupils. Where quality assured ‘ready-made’ lesson plans are used, always ensure they are tailored and adapted to meet your pupils’ needs.
The importance of properly trained and prepared PSHE teachers can’t be underestimated given the complex nature of the issues covered in the PSHE curriculum. However, there isn’t currently initial teacher training in PSHE education as a route into PSHE teaching in the same way as someone could train to be a mathematics teacher for instance.
Whilst primary teachers will teach all curriculum subjects including PSHE education, virtually all secondary PSHE education teachers will have trained in a different subject specialism and have either chosen to move to specialise in PSHE or have been asked by their school to teach it. Whatever the route, training is key, and the PSHE Association offers a wide range of CPD training options, including our highly acclaimed one-day workshops as well as bespoke Inset sessions for staff teams in schools and support by phone or email to Association members. Those new to the PSHE lead role are advised to attend our ‘Effective leadership and management of PSHE education’ course (or if completely new to PSHE education, then start with ‘Understanding PSHE education’ for a thorough grounding in best practice.
I've been asked to co-ordinate PSHE education in my school. Where do I start?
Becoming a member of the Association gives you the opportunity to contact our subject specialists for advice and access all of our resources. We have also developed a PSHE leads’ starter pack listing the key documents you will need to get you started.
Beyond this, a lot depends on what is already in place. If you are inheriting an existing programme, undertaking a comprehensive review using either the PSHE Association’s PSHE education self-review tool (primary and secondary versions) or our Ofsted self-review tool for PSHE education may be helpful. You should begin by reflecting on what your pupils might need now, and in their futures.
PSHE provision should develop essential skills which pupils can apply to a range of situations, and which reflect their universal needs (for example drug education) and unique needs (for example local priorities). Regardless of the source, any external programme of study or scheme of work should serve your pupils’ needs and not the other way round. Spend some time talking to local professionals such as school nurses. Talk to your pupils about how they feel about their current PSHE provision.
Be wary of any programme or approach that promises to solve all your needs ‘off-the-shelf’. Even the most detailed example will need tailoring to your pupils’ needs.
We also offer several one-day courses. Of particular value to newly appointed PSHE leads we have training for primary and secondary schools on effective leadership and management in PSHE education, on planning your PSHE education programme, which covers effective planning, teaching and assessment. Additionally, our Online CPD Programme resources are free to members of the Association.
We would also recommend consulting the PSHE Association Programme of Study for PSHE education and accompanying guidance.
We have produced a resource on ‘Handling complex issues safely in the PSHE education classroom’ which you may find useful for any PSHE subject area. This covers key principles such as the importance of setting ground rules, creating a safe classroom environment, distancing techniques and understanding pupils’ prior learning.
The principles of good PSHE teaching and learning are essentially the same whatever the age, needs and abilities of the learners, although these principles will be adapted differently in every school. As most of those who attend our courses are from mainstream settings, most of the examples used during the courses are from mainstream settings, however there is always the opportunity for discussion around how they would apply in the delegates’ contexts and you would always be in a small group, allowing us to tailor the content to your needs.
Whilst welcome at any of our training courses, we recommend that teachers in special schools also attend our 'Effective PSHE in Special Education Provision' course. Visit our events section to see when this is next running or get in touch.
The PSHE Association Programme of Study includes a section on key stage 5. Provision of PSHE education at key stage 5 is slightly different than key stages 1-4. In key stages 1 to 4, there is more focus on preparing young people for their future but in key stage 5 young people may have more direct experience of the issues explored.
Key stage 5 students should be given a stronger voice in determining the areas that are covered based on their needs. Important areas to revisit include relationships and sexual health (especially how to access support services); mental health related topics such as exam stress; alcohol and drugs (from an adult perspective, thinking of them as drivers, employees, moving towards forming long-term relationships, parenthood etc.); employability skills – such as communication, resilience and teamwork - as well as more logistical careers-related work such as university or job applications.
You can find comprehensive guidance in the ‘Curriculum’ section of our website, which includes a range of advice, from what to teach in PSHE lessons and how to assess learning, to preparing your PSHE education programme for Ofsted inspections, and teaching about ‘sensitive’ issues. You can also find a list of our key guidance documents here.
If you are a PSHE Association member, contact us here to access one-to-one advice over phone or email from our team of subject specialists. We also run training courses which cover planning and assessment in greater detail.
If you are having trouble finding the information you are looking for, or have any inquiries about the services we provide please get in touch.
We also offer members of the PSHE Association support and advice on all aspects PSHE education over phone and email from our team of subject experts – if you are a member, please call us on 020 7922 7950 or send us an email with your query. You can find out more about membership here.