Government PSHE Guidance and the National Curriculum
PSHE education is a school subject through which pupils develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to keep themselves healthy and safe, and prepare for life and work in modern Britain. Evidence shows that well-delivered PSHE programmes have an impact on both academic and non-academic outcomes for pupils, particularly the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.
PSHE education is a non-statutory subject on the school curriculum. However, section 2.5 of the national curriculum states that all state schools ‘should make provision for personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), drawing on good practice'.
In addition to the national curriculum framework, the Department for Education guidance states that the subject is ‘an important and necessary part of all pupils’ education’ and that ‘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.'
Maintained schools are required to publish details of the curriculum by year group for all subjects, including PSHE education. This should be with the same level of detail as for all other subjects.
Academies, free schools and independent schools are not bound by the national curriculum, however all schools share the statutory duties outlined in the sections below. A school’s best approach is therefore to ensure that a comprehensive programme of PSHE education is in place. Independent schools inspected by the Independent School Inspectorate (ISI) are also required to have schemes of work for PSHE which are ‘implemented effectively’.
In March 2017, then Education Secretary Justine Greening announced that RSE would be compulsory in all secondary schools, and 'relationships education' in all primary schools. She also committed to considering the status of broader PSHE education. A call-for-evidence on the nature of these proposals concluded in 2018 and on 19 July 2018 current Education Secretary Damian Hinds announced that the health education aspect of PSHE would also be compulsory in all schools. Draft guidance was also published on 19 July for further consultation until November. Final guidance should be available to schools from September 2019, and health and RSE/relationships education compulsory from September 2020. The Education Secretary urged those schools covering health and relationships education very successfully through PSHE education to continue to do so. The PSHE Association described the addition of compulsory status for health education as a 'major step' towards better PSHE education for all and published initial guidance on what this means in practice for schools.
The national curriculum also states that ‘all schools should make provision for personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), drawing on good practice'. PSHE education contributes to schools' statutory duties outlined in the Education Act 2002 and the Academies Act 2010 to provide a balanced and broadly-based curriculum and is essential to Ofsted judgements in relation to personal development, behaviour, welfare and safeguarding. The relationships and health aspects of PSHE education will be compulsory in all schools from 2020.
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