Evidence and research

This page brings together a range of evidence demonstrating the positive impact of teaching PSHE education.

We have gathered a wealth of evidence demonstrating that the knowledge, skills and attributes taught within PSHE education have a positive impact in a number of areas, including emotional wellbeing, academic attainment, and preparation for the world of work.

We showcase some of the strongest evidence here, including academic research, case studies and surveys. We will add new evidence as it is published, as we know it helps our members and supporters to make the case for better PSHE provision to head teachers, governors, parents, and policymakers at local and national levels.


PSHE Association Research and Evidence Briefings

Our briefings are short but comprehensive summaries of evidence on key aspects of PSHE education. They are aimed at all members and supporters, to keep them informed of the latest evidence, and to help them persuade others of the positive impact of PSHE education.

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1. An overview of the case for PSHE education

This document brings together compelling evidence that PSHE – when taught well - helps keep children and young people safe, physically and emotionally healthy and prepared for life and work. The report highlights support for the subject from expert bodies, pupils, parents, teachers, business leaders and parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, and outlines key principles of effective practice.

2. The relationship between PSHE education, academic attainment and employability

This briefing brings together growing evidence to suggest that the skills and attributes acquired through PSHE education have a significant impact on pupils' academic achievement, employability and future life chances. It will help members and supporters to make a compelling argument to senior leaders, governors and others about the importance of the subject.

3. Key principles of effective prevention education

Produced by the PSHE Association in partnership with Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), this report outlines 11 key principles of effective practice in prevention education, based on a literature review of research into common elements of successful educational interventions, encompassing hundreds of programmes in the UK and abroad.

4. Social mobility case for statutory PSHE

This briefing shows PSHE education has significant potential to boost pupil's life chances, helping them to develop the character, resilience and skills they need to succeed academically and in the workplace and reducing barriers to learning, particularly for the most disadvantaged pupils.

5. PSHE Association case study series

In 2013 Ofsted found a strong correlation between schools judged ‘outstanding’ and those judged outstanding for their PSHE education provision (‘Not Yet Good Enough’ – Ofsted 2013). To better understand this relationship we visited ten ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ schools that have committed both curriculum time and resources to the provision of high quality PSHE education and believed that this had made a significant contribution to their successful Ofsted judgement.

6. Evidence briefing, PSHE education, pupil wellbeing and safety at school

This short evidence briefing outlines evidence to show that pupils who are positive about PSHE lessons by they receive at school are more likely to have positive relationships at school, as well as a strong feeling of belonging at school. The findings are based on analysis conducted by the University of Hertfordshire and the PSHE Association, using data from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) research study which surveyed 5,335 English school children aged 11, 13 and 15 in 2014.

Government Briefings

The Department for Education and other governmental bodies have published official briefings which highlight the positive impact of PSHE education on academic attainment and pupil outcomes. These briefings can be used to make the case for PSHE within your school and the wider school community.

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1. PSHE education: a review of impact and effective practice

Published by the Department for Education in March 2015, this review is an overview of research into the impact of PSHE education. It outlines the positive impact of PSHE education on pupils' physical and emotional wellbeing, readiness to learn, and a range of health outcomes including smoking, drinking, diet and exercise. It also demonstrates that PSHE education can have a positive impact on pupils academic and career success through developing key personal and social skills.

2. PSHE education: A mapping study of the prevalent models of delivery and their effectiveness

This Department for Education briefing evaluates a variety of delivery strategies across a wide range of schools in England, providing analysis of teaching methods which constitute effective practice within PSHE.

Further reading

There is a substantial body of research into the effectiveness of the knowledge, skills and attributes that PSHE education develops, and the subject's place within a wider whole school approach. Key studies are listed below. They are aimed at people who are interested in reading more widely about, or conducting in-depth research into the effectiveness of PSHE education.

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1. Cochrane Review: The impact of health education within Health Promoting Schools

PSHE education should be delivered as part of a whole-school approach aimed at supporting pupils’ health, wellbeing and development. sometimes referred to as a Health Promoting School. The Cochrane Review of Health Promoting Schools examines evidence from a number of studies, finding a significant impact on physical activity, body mass index, fruit and vegetable intake, smoking, and bullying.

You can read a blog by author Dr Beki Langford hosted here

2. Public Health England Briefing: The link between pupil health and wellbeing and attainment

This briefing published by Public Health England is aimed at headteachers, governors, teachers and other education practitioners. It outlines evidence showing that promoting pupil health and wellbeing as part of a whole-school approach can also have a positive impact on educational outcomes. The document also identifies how strategies to improve pupil health and wellbeing link with the Ofsted inspection framework.

Surveys and Research

This section includes surveys and research conducted by ourselves and others on the quality of existing PSHE provision, the impact of PSHE education within schools, and attitudes towards PSHE education. You can read more about our findings here.

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1. Practitioner survey: The impact of the status of PSHE education on the quality of provision

These documents summarise testimonials from both teaching staff and local authority leads about the ways in which the current status of PSHE education affects the quality of PSHE provision in schools.

2. Parent survey: Support for teaching PSHE education in all schools

This survey of over 1,000 parents of children aged 18 and under was conducted by YouGov on behalf of the PSHE Association in August 2016. It shows that 92% of parents support the teaching of PSHE education in all schools.

3. Business leader survey: Support for PSHE education and teaching skills for the world of work

This survey of over 700 business leaders was conducted by YouGov on behalf of the PSHE Association in October 2014. It shows that 85% of business leaders support teaching PSHE education in all schools.

4. Annual member survey of PSHE practitioners

This summary of our annual member survey of our members describes the experiences and needs of PSHE education practitioners.