Programme of Study for PSHE Education (Key stages 1–5)

Programme of Study for PSHE Education (Key stages 1–5)

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The Department for Education’s statutory Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education guidance sets out what schools must cover. This edition of the Programme of Study (updated January 2020) will support you to provide a comprehensive programme that integrates, but is not limited to, this statutory content.

The statutory guidance is comprehensively covered by learning opportunities for each key stage across the Programme’s three core themes: ‘Health and Wellbeing’, ‘Relationships’, and ‘Living in the Wider World’,

Even though much of ‘Living in the Wider World’ is not included in statutory requirements, this core theme is equally important. A high quality PSHE programme will also cover economic wellbeing, careers and enterprise education, as well as education for personal safety, including assessing and managing risk.

The Programme of Study is free to download and printed copies are available for members to purchase.


Link to Programme Builders for KS1-4 banner

FAQs

The PSHE Education Programme of Study (key stages 1–5) is the only national programme of study for the subject and is regularly signposted to by the Department for Education for schools to use.

Through its three core themes (Health and Wellbeing, Relationships, and Living in the Wider World) our Programme of Study provides schools with a framework for creating a programme which matches their pupils’ needs. It covers the breadth of PSHE from relationships and sex education (RSE) and health, to economic wellbeing and careers, setting out suggested content for each key stage.

With the Relationships, Sex and Health Education elements of PSHE compulsory in all schools* from September 2020, the Programme of Study has been fully updated to support schools to prepare for the statutory changes. The Department for Education’s statutory guidance for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE), and Health Education, sets out what schools must cover in primary and secondary phase from September 2020, though not all that they should cover as part of broader PSHE education, and does not specify content for each key stage.

This Programme of Study therefore provides a comprehensive programme for each key stage, that fully covers, but is not limited to the statutory requirements.


* Health education is already a requirement in independent schools as part of compulsory PSHE education.

The statutory guidance for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE), and Health Education is comprehensively covered by the Programme of Study’s learning opportunities across all three core themes. Even though much of ‘Living in the wider world’ is not included in the statutory requirements, the theme as a whole remains vitally important for pupils’ personal development and economic wellbeing, as well as in supporting schools to meet the Gatsby benchmarks for careers education, as part of the DfE Careers Strategy.

The final section of the Programme of Study sets out the content grids from the DfE statutory guidance for Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education, mapped to the Programme of Study, clearly identifying the Programme of Study learning opportunities that address each bullet point from the statutory guidance.


The Department for Education’s statutory guidance for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE), and Health Education sets out the content that is compulsory for schools to teach from September 2020. What a school teaches beyond that content is a decision for them, however we strongly recommend that schools teach the statutory content within a broader, comprehensive PSHE education programme for the following reasons:

  • The Department for Education (DfE) says: ‘All elements of PSHE are important and the government continues to recommend PSHE be taught in schools’.
  • If the non-statutory elements of PSHE education are not taught, the ‘personal’ aspects of economic wellbeing will be lost. PSHE complements the financial education covered through Citizenship and Maths, but covers the personal aspects of economic wellbeing.
  • PSHE education is the vehicle through which schools can best ensure they meet many of the Gatsby benchmarks. DfE data shows that the most common approach to careers education is delivery through PSHE lessons (87%), including the crucial early learning in primary years that raises aspirations and broadens understanding of the world of work.
  • Health, relationships, economic wellbeing and successful careers are all linked. PSHE is the glue that binds them together. It gathers all of these aspects of preparing for modern life together into a coherent curriculum subject.

The essential structure of the Programme of Study remains the same, identifying learning opportunities for each key stage from key stage 1 to 5, based on three core themes: Health and Wellbeing; Relationships; and Living in the Wider World. However, we have taken the opportunity to revisit the learning opportunities for each stage, revising and updating them where necessary and ensuring that they fully cover the DfE’s new statutory guidance for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE), and Health Education. They have also now been grouped under subheadings within each core theme.

As the Programme of Study includes — but is not limited to — the new statutory content, to help schools identify how and where the statutory content is addressed, we have also added a section at the end of this updated edition. This sets out the content grids from the statutory guidance for Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education, mapped to the Programme of Study, clearly identifying the Programme of Study learning opportunities that address each bullet point from the statutory guidance.


We would encourage all schools to move towards using the updated Programme of Study from September 2020. However, schools can be confident that continuing to use the 2017 edition (archived here) in conjunction with our ‘We’ve got it covered’ mapping document (which maps the 2017 Programme of Study to the new DfE statutory guidance for Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education) will enable them to plan a comprehensive and effective PSHE programme.

The essential structure of the updated Programme of Study remains the same as the 2017 edition, identifying learning opportunities for each key stage from key stage 1 to 5, based on three core themes: Health and Wellbeing; Relationships; and Living in the wider world.


Whilst the medium term planning grids in the planning toolkits will no longer be a direct match to the learning opportunities in the updated programme of Study, the planning toolkits continue to provide valuable support for those planning schemes of work tailored to their pupils’ needs.

However, we will shortly be publishing our Programme Builders, to accompany the updated Programme of Study. The Programme Builders will provide five model programmes (two for primary, two for secondary and one for middle/prep schools), each comprising:

  • a long term plan for the year across all year groups
  • separate grids for each year group, setting out learning objectives for each half-term
  • links to resources (both PSHE Association resources and resources carrying the Association’s Quality Mark) that support each module. These will be regularly updated as new resources achieve the Quality Mark

PSHE education is definitely in the spotlight due to the health, relationships and sex education aspects becoming statutory from September 2020. Ofsted is also paying more attention to the subject given the new framework’s greater focus on personal development and supporting students’ future success. Using the updated Programme of Study will support you to clarify your PSHE curriculum’s ‘Intent’ and will provide the starting point for planning the ‘Implementation’ of your curriculum. Using the accompanying assessment guide will help you to demonstrate the ‘Impact’ of PSHE teaching and learning in your school. For more on the new Ofsted inspection framework and PSHE education, see our blog: What does the new Ofsted framework mean for PSHE education?


We have recently published an updated edition of our popular PSHE education planning framework for pupils with SEND to accompany the updated Programme of Study. This framework identifies topics of particular relevance to learners with SEND and maps out progressive learning outcomes within each topic from key stage 1 to 4. The 2020 edition has been expanded to include additional learning outcomes to ensure the framework addresses the new DfE Statutory Guidance for Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education in an appropriate way for pupils with SEND in both mainstream and special school settings.


We haven’t included the early years foundation stage (EYFS) within the Programme of Study as PSHE education is not a discrete curriculum subject within the statutory EYFS framework. However, EYFS is still a great place to start exploring the foundations of PSHE education. The EYFS statutory framework areas of Personal, Social and Emotional development, and Understanding the World, have close links to the PSHE education Programme of Study. Learning and development opportunities for these areas, as well as Communication and language, can be interwoven within the pupils’ experience through daily EYFS play-based activities, role-play areas, quality children’s fiction and reflective discussion to begin to build pupils’ knowledge and understanding, skills, attitudes and attributes related to PSHE elements of education.



1. Health education is already a requirement in independent schools as part of compulsory PSHE education.


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