Release date: 21/04/2021

The National Governance Association and the PSHE Association have today (21 April) published guidance to support discussions between governing boards and leaders in schools and trusts, about making personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education a fundamental part of their curriculum.

Read the guidance

PSHE education helps pupils develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to manage their lives now and in the future. It plays a key role in safeguarding pupils and supporting their mental and physical health.

The importance of PSHE has been highlighted in the recent debate about the role of and responsibilities of schools in tackling sexual harassment and violence and instilling good values in young people and respect for one another. PSHE also provides an ideal context for schools to meet new statutory requirements to provide Relationships Education at key stages 1 and 2, Relationships and Sex Education at key stages 3 and 4, and Health Education across all key stages. 

The guidance highlights the crucial link between PSHE education and safeguarding in schools. It recommends that governing boards take an active interest in the PSHE education and the extent to which it teaches pupils to maintain healthy lifestyles, address risks to their physical and mental health and, crucially, instils responsibility and respect for others. These are things that help to keep pupils safe in different situations (for example when they are online) and helps to protect them from sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse.

The guidance outlines ways in which governing boards can raise the status of PSHE education and increase its impact. This includes having a clear vision, developing bespoke policies and investing resources in continuing professional development, so that teachers can confidently communicate important messages about health and wellbeing, relationships, economic wellbeing and careers. The guidance also includes links to relevant resources and examples of questions that governors and trustees might ask about PSHE education.

Commenting on the new guidance, NGA’s director of advice and guidance Steve Edmonds said: “NGA thinks that education serves a range of purposes. Governors and trustees, being volunteers who come from a wide range of backgrounds, are committed to ensuring good academic outcomes for children and young people in their schools, but they are also generally very interested in the ‘whole’ child and equipping them for life.  We are pleased to publish this guidance alongside the PSHE association, and we share their commitment to ensuring every pupil enjoys good PSHE education.  Whilst recognising that instilling good values and responsible decision making is an issue that goes wider than schools, we want the guidance to put PSHE education at the forefront of board level discussions about the curriculum in their school or trust, and for it not to be squeezed to the margins by subjects that are more easily measured.”

PSHE Association Chief Executive Jonathan Baggaley said: “As the national body for PSHE education, we understand the crucial role that governors and trustees can play in ensuring schools are safe places in which children and young people can thrive – academically, emotionally and socially. PSHE education – including statutory relationships, sex and health education – is a vital part of schools’ approach to safeguarding, and ensuring all pupils have what they need to meet life’s challenges and make the most of life’s opportunities. We are therefore delighted to work with NGA on this guidance and look forward to sharing it with our national membership of schools and teachers.”

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