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Effective PSHE education can benefit all students

Jonathan Baggaley, Chief Executive of the PSHE Association, explains the importance of the Rise Above for Schools programme

Posted by Lucinda Reid | January 24, 2018 | School life

Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education is increasingly recognised by government, schools, parents and leading children’s charities for its value in keeping children safe, healthy and prepared for the modern world. Government proposals to make relationships and sex education compulsory in all schools, and suggestions that the whole of PSHE could also be made compulsory, give real hope that PSHE will find the same footing as other school subjects. Programmes such as Rise Above for Schools, recently launched by Public Health England, are a great way to help teachers to prepare for these changes.

The launch of Rise Above for Schools is timely, given the complex pressures on today’s young people combined with a sense that PSHE has not always been seen as a priority in schools. Indeed, Ofsted’s 2013 PSHE review concluded that 40% of schools’ PSHE provision was simply ‘not yet good enough’, and the Department for Education’s workforce figures suggest a decline in time allocated to PSHE – so it is clear that something has to change.

The government’s amendments to the 2017 Children and Social Work Act were therefore welcome, giving the Secretary of State the power to make PSHE education statutory following careful consideration as part of a wide-ranging engagement process.

To support schools and teachers when delivering high quality PSHE, the PSHE Association provides guidance and works with a range of national bodies to develop and quality-assure resources. Rise Above for Schools is a perfect example of this approach. With Public Health England sharing our aims to support healthier, safer young people, we were keen to work with them on this suite of PSHE education resources.

All young people should be expected and supported to achieve academically, but it should not be an ‘either/or’ choice between academic subjects and PSHE.

Rise Above for Schools covers a range of issues – from body image to cyberbullying, positive relationships to alcohol use – in a way that fits coherently within a school’s planned PSHE curriculum. This highlights how effective PSHE delivers a series of inter-dependent topics, and it chimes with PSHE education’s aim to foster transferable skills and attributes that young people can apply to numerous areas of their lives. Take communication skills for example, which can be developed through PSHE and applied to conducting a successful job interview or avoiding risky situations.

All young people should be expected and supported to achieve academically, but it should not be an ‘either/or’ choice between academic subjects and PSHE. Studies have shown that PSHE helps to remove barriers to learning related to mental and physical health, bullying and relationships. This leads to happy, healthy children with a better chance of academic success.

With its primary role in supporting young people’s health, wellbeing and resilience, and the resulting impact on attainment, there is a very strong argument for all children in all schools to receive high quality PSHE education. Initiatives like Rise Above for Schools are a strong step in the right direction, and will complement what we hope will be a chance for all pupils, in all schools to benefit from greater emphasis on the subject.

Jonathan Baggaley is Chief Executive of the PSHE Association, the national body for personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education. A charity and membership organisation, the association provides teachers and schools with resources, training and support to improve their PSHE provision. Visit www.pshe-association.org.uk

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