Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education

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Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education is a school curriculum subject in England that focuses on strengthening the knowledge, skills, and connections to keep children and young people healthy and safe and prepare them for life and work.[1] 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.[2]

The Department for Education (DfE) state that "all schools should make a plan for PSHE, drawing on good practice"[3] and that PSHE education is "an important and necessary part of all pupils' education".[4]

PSHE learning is shown to not only support pupils' health, relationships and wellbeing[5] but also their academic attainment.[6] A DfE review of PSHE education provision found a range of positive outcomes, including improved attitudes to health, being able to deal with personal difficulties and improved behaviour.[7]

In Wales, the subject is Personal and Social Education (PSE). In Ireland (ROI), 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), plus PSHCE (Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education).

PSHE is currently the responsibility of the Minister of State for Schools.[8]

PSHE themes and topics[edit]

The PSHE education programme of study is organised into three core themes:[9]

  1. health and wellbeing
  2. relationships
  3. living in the wider world (covering economic wellbeing and careers)

These themes include numerous topics linked to physical and mental health, alcohol and drug culture, sex, and relationships, education, economic wellbeing, and careers.

Status on the curriculum and recent developments[edit]

PSHE education has been a non-statutory (and therefore non-compulsory) curriculum subject. However, as Ofsted stated in its 2013 PSHE report "the great majority of schools choose to teach it because it makes a major contribution to their statutory responsibilities to promote children and young people's personal and economic wellbeing; offer sex and relationships education; prepare pupils for adult life and provide a broad and balanced curriculum".[7]

There have however been concerns raised about the consistency of provision due to this non-statutory status. The aforementioned 2013 Ofsted PSHE report found that 40% of schools’ PSHE education was "not yet good enough". There has also been more of an expectation on independent schools to provide PSHE education than maintained schools and academies up to now due to greater emphasis on PSHE in the Independent Schools Standards.[10]

Concerns over consistency and quality and provision prompted a national campaign to raise the status of PSHE education in all schools. This was supported by over 100 organisations (including the NSPCC, British Heart Foundation, Teenage Cancer Trust and Barnardo's), 85% of business leaders, 88% of teachers, 92% of parents and 92% of young people.[11]

In 2017 the government committed to introducing compulsory relationships and sex education (RSE) in all secondary schools, and compulsory 'relationships education' in all primary schools.[12] An additional commitment to the health education (mental and physical) aspect of PSHE education was announced in July 2018.[13] The majority of PSHE education will therefore be compulsory in all schools from September 2020. Though not yet compulsory, schools are still expected to cover the economic wellbeing (and careers) of PSHE education.[14][15]

The PSHE Association and the Sex Education Forum jointly published a Roadmap to Statutory RSE education[16] in November 2018 to support schools in preparing their relationships and sex education for statutory changes.[16] In February 2019, the Department of Education enacted a statutory guidance policy which will assist schools in England with PSHE when it becomes compulsory in 2020.[17][18]

A measure to make PSHE compulsory in primary and secondary schools in England received approval from the House of Lords in April 2019.[19] The Department for Education (DfE) published final statutory guidance for teaching Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education in June 2019.[20] The consultation closed in November 2018. This guidance will replace existing government "Sex and Relationship Education Guidance", which were last updated in 2000.[21] The guidelines, which were also published by the House of Commons,[22] require, among other things, acknowledgement of England's laws concerning gay rights, including the legalization of same-sex marriage and the protection of the "physical and mental wellbeing" of gay children.[23][22]

Despite not being mandatory until September 2020, schools in England were encouraged to enact the new PSHE curriculum starting in September 2019.[20] In September 2020, the PSHE curriculum went into effect in England's high schools and elemetary schools. with high schools also adapting LGBT PSHE sex education.[24]

National body for PSHE education[edit]

The PSHE Association is the national body for PSHE education in England, providing advice and support to a network of over 50,000 teachers and other professionals working in schools nationwide. The Association is an independent charity and membership association, established as the official national PSHE subject association by the Department for Education in 2007.


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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions | PSHE Association". Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  2. ^ Ofsted (2010) Personal, social, health and economic education in schools [1] Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE)". GOV.UK. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education". GOV.UK. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  5. ^ "A curriculum for life: the case for statutory PSHE education". PSHE Association. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  6. ^ "The economic case for PSHE in schools". Pro Bono Economics. 23 October 2017. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education: A mapping study of the prevalent models of delivery and their effectiveness" (PDF). 23 January 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Minister of State for School Standards - GOV.UK". Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  9. ^ "Updated Programme of Study for PSHE Education (key stages 1-5". PSHE Association. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  10. ^ "EDUCATION, ENGLAND The Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014" (PDF). 23 January 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  11. ^ "Campaigns". PSHE Association. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Sex and Relationships Education:Written statement - HCWS509". UK Parliament. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  13. ^ "Government takes 'major step' towards better PSHE for all". PSHE Association. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  14. ^ "Curriculum guidance". PSHE Association. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  15. ^ "Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education" (PDF). UK Department of Education (Draft). February 2019. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Roadmap to statutory relationships and sex education published". NAHT. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  17. ^ "Curriculum guidance". PSHE Association. February 2019. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  18. ^ "Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education" (PDF). UK Department of Education (Draft). February 2019. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  19. ^ "Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education (England) Regulations 2019 - Hansard".
  20. ^ a b "Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education". UK Department of Education. 25 June 2019. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  21. ^ "Sex and Relationship Education Guidance" (PDF). National Archives. July 2000. Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  22. ^ a b Long, Robert (11 July 2019). "Relationships and Sex Education in Schools (England)" – via {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  23. ^[bare URL PDF]
  24. ^ Kuhr, Elizabeth (8 September 2020). "High schools must teach LGBTQ-inclusive sex education in England". NBC News. Retrieved 6 April 2022.

External links[edit]