Personal, Social and Health Education

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Personal, social, health and economic (PSHCE) education has in various forms been part of the National Curriculum for schools in UK since 2000. Some aspects, but not all, have been compulsory. PSHE education is defined by the schools inspectorate Ofsted as a planned programme to help children and young people develop fully as individuals and as members of families and social and economic communities. Its goal is to equip young people with the knowledge, understanding, attitudes and practical skills to live healthily, safely, productively and responsibly.[1]

In Wales, the comparable element of the state school curriculum topic is Personal and Social Education (PSE). In Ireland, it is Social, Personal and Health education (SPHE). It is also known as PSHEE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education), PSED (Personal, Social and Emotional Development) and PSHCE (Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education).

PSHE topics[edit]

Topics covered within PSHE are grouped in three core themes:

(i) health and wellbeing
(ii) relationships
(iii) living in the wider world

They include:[2]

Recent developments[edit]

The UK government published in May 2005[3] the "SEAL" pack (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) for primary schools to teach emotional "literacy" and personal growth overtly through PSHE and the curriculum. This is to be supported also in secondary schools in England and Wales with a similar pack, still in development, called "SEBS" or Social, Emotional and Behavioural Skills. It is also sometimes referred to as variants of PSHEE (Personal Social Health Economic Education).[citation needed]

In January 2011 a large study of PSHE education in primary and secondary schools in England was completed by the Centre for Education and Inclusion Research (CEIR) at Sheffield Hallam University.[4] This research was based on a nationally representative survey and in-depth case studies to map and assess the delivery and effectiveness of current provision in English primary and secondary schools.

In July 2011, the Department for Education launched an internal review of personal, social, health and economic education to look at the content and quality of teaching of PSHE in schools.[5] Closing date for the responses to the review was Wednesday 30 November 2011.

The Government’s PSHE education review concluded in March 2013, stating that the subject would remain non-statutory and that no new programmes of study would be published.[6] However in July 2013 the PSHE Association produced a revised programme of study ‘based on the needs of today’s pupils and schools’. Their programme of study identifies the key concepts and skills that underpin PSHE education and help schools to fulfil their statutory responsibilities.[7]

As of 2008, the national curriculum states that sex-and-relationships education is compulsory in all schools - with no exception of faith schools [8] - from the age of 11. The most recent update to the curriculum concerning sex and relationship education was published in July 2000; it states that sex education shall not promote early sexual activity or any particular sexual orientation, but should only teach the basics of reproduction, sexual health and sexuality.[9] With regards to preventing 'promotion' of sexual activity or sexuality, the curriculum guide specifies 'ground rules' and 'distancing techniques' including: no personal questions; no pressure to participate in discussion; correct names for body parts; and definitions explained in a sensible and factual way.[10] A consultation from the Department for Education opened on 19 December 2017 stated that the government is considering updates to the existing 2000 guidance - that is now out-dated - to offer further support for teaching sex and relationship education. This consultation was closed on 12 February 2018.[11]


There are many independent publications supporting the teaching of PSHE in schools in the UK:

  • Programme of Study for PSHE Education (Key stages 1–5), by the PSHE Association
  • Jigsaw PSHE Scheme of Work by Jan Lever and Clare Williams
  • Circles, PSHE and Citizenship in Secondary Schools by Marilyn Tew, Hilary Potter and Mary Read
  • PSHE and Citizenship by Hilary Mason
  • The PSHE Co-Ordinator's Handbook by Colin Noble, Graham Hofmann
  • Dimensions Creative Curriculum PSHE schemes of work Nursery EYFS, KS1, KS2 by Elaine Sutton

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ofsted (2010) Personal, social, health and economic education in schools Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine.[Accessed 27 Nov 2015]
  2. ^ "Our PSHE Education Programme of Study (Key Stages 1-4)" (PDF). The PSHE Association. 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  3. ^ "Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL): Improving behaviour, improving learning". Archived from the original on 30 August 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  4. ^ Formby, Eleanor; Coldwell, Mike; Stiell, Bernadette; Demack, Sean; Stevens, Anna; Shipton, Lucy; Wolstenholme, Claire; Willis, Benn. "Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education: A mapping study of the prevalent models of delivery and their effectiveness". Department for Education (UK). Archived from the original on 22 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  5. ^ "Department for Education e-consultations, Review of Personal, Social, Health and Economics (PSHE) Education". Archived from the original on 16 September 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE)". 11 September 2013. Archived from the original on 3 November 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Programme of Study for PSHE Education (Key stages 1–5) - PSHE Association". Archived from the original on 5 November 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  8. ^ Curtis, Polly (23 October 2008). "Sex education made compulsory in all schools". Archived from the original on 28 October 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2018 – via
  9. ^ "The national curriculum". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 12 November 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  10. ^ Archived 28 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine. - section 4, 'Teaching Strategies for Sex and Relationship Education'
  11. ^ "Changes to the teaching of Sex & Relationship Education and PSHE - Department for Education - Citizen Space". Archived from the original on 30 November 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2018.

External links[edit]