Personal, social, health and economic education
Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education is an important and necessary part of all pupils’ education. All schools should teach PSHE, drawing on good practice, and this expectation is outlined in the introduction to the proposed new national curriculum.
PSHE is a non-statutory subject. To allow teachers the flexibility to deliver high-quality PSHE we consider it unnecessary to provide new standardised frameworks or programmes of study. PSHE can encompass many areas of study. Teachers are best placed to understand the needs of their pupils and do not need additional central prescription.
However, while we believe that it is for schools to tailor their local PSHE programme to reflect the needs of their pupils, we expect schools to use their PSHE education programme to equip pupils with a sound understanding of risk and with the knowledge and skills necessary to make safe and informed decisions.
Schools should seek to use PSHE education to build, where appropriate, on the statutory content already outlined in the national curriculum, the basic school curriculum and in statutory guidance on: drug education, financial education, sex and relationship education (SRE) and the importance of physical activity and diet for a healthy lifestyle.
Sex and relationship education
Sex and relationship education (SRE) is an important part of PSHE education and is statutory in maintained secondary schools.
When any school provides SRE they must have regard to the Secretary of State’s guidance ; this is a statutory duty. Academies do not have to provide SRE but must also have regard to Secretary of State’s guidance when they do.
Advice for schools
We provide grant funding to the PSHE Association to work with schools to advise them in developing their own PSHE curriculums and improve the quality of teaching. The association focuses on signposting schools to high-quality resources and in expanding their Chartered Teacher of PSHE programme. We have also asked the association to promote the teaching of consent as part of SRE, in line with the statutory guidance for that subject.
For drug and alcohol education, we launched a new evidence-based information service in April 2013 called Mentor-ADEPIS for those working with young people, including schools and teachers. The new service provides practical advice and tools based on the best international evidence.
We also provide funding to the Centre for the Analysis of Youth Transitions (CAYT) to develop a database of evaluations of programmes aimed at improving outcomes for young people.
CAYT will score the strength of evidence of impact for a submitted programme, so schools and others will know which programmes have the best evidence of impact.
We want teachers to be free to address the topics most relevant for their pupils, drawing on good practice and advice from professional organisations. Schools are free to use the organisations and resources they choose and we encourage organisations to develop guidance for schools in the areas of their expertise.
We have asked the PSHE Association to provide teachers with a range of case studies to inform their teaching. We recommend that schools use reputable professional organisations that will facilitate a broad and balanced approach.