Programme of Study for PSHE Education (key stages 1–5)

Programme of Study for PSHE Education (key stages 1–5)

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The Department for Education’s statutory Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education guidance sets out in detail what schools must cover. Our Programme of Study supports you to provide a comprehensive programme that integrates, but is not limited to, this statutory content.

Statutory content is covered by learning opportunities for each key stage across the Programme’s three core themes: ‘Health and Wellbeing’, ‘Relationships’, and ‘Living in the Wider World’,

A high quality PSHE programme will also cover economic wellbeing, careers and enterprise education, as well as education for personal safety, including assessing and managing risk. These areas are mainly covered with the 'Living in the Wider World' core theme – and though not yet statutory, are vital parts of any school's PSHE curriculum.

The Programme of Study is free to download and printed copies are available for members to purchase.

Link to Programme Builders for KS1-4 banner


The PSHE Education Programme of Study (key stages 1–5) is the only national programme of study for the subject and is regularly signposted to by the Department for Education for schools to use.

Through its three core themes (Health and Wellbeing, Relationships, and Living in the Wider World) our Programme of Study provides schools with a framework for creating a programme which matches their pupils’ needs. It covers the breadth of PSHE from statutory RSHE content (including Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education) to economic wellbeing and careers, setting out suggested content for each key stage.

The Department for Education’s statutory guidance for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE), and Health Education, sets out what schools must cover in primary and secondary phase from September 2020, though not all that they should cover as part of broader PSHE education, and does not specify content for each key stage.

This Programme of Study therefore provides a comprehensive programme for each key stage, that fully covers, but is not limited to the statutory requirements.

* Health education is already a requirement in independent schools as part of compulsory PSHE education.

The statutory content for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE), and Health Education is covered by the Programme of Study’s learning opportunities across all three core themes. Even though much of ‘Living in the wider world’ is not included in the statutory requirements, the theme as a whole remains vitally important for pupils’ personal development and economic wellbeing, as well as in supporting schools to meet the Gatsby benchmarks for careers education, as part of the DfE Careers Strategy.

The final section of the Programme of Study maps the DfE statutory RSHE guidance to the Programme of Study, clearly identifying learning opportunities that address each bullet point from the statutory guidance.

The Department for Education’s statutory guidance for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE), and Health Education sets out the content that is compulsory for schools to teach from September 2020. What a school teaches beyond that content is a decision for them, however we strongly recommend that schools teach the statutory content within a broader, comprehensive PSHE education programme for the following reasons:

  • The Department for Education (DfE) says: ‘All elements of PSHE are important and the government continues to recommend PSHE be taught in schools’.
  • If the non-statutory elements of PSHE education are not taught, the ‘personal’ aspects of economic wellbeing will be lost. PSHE complements the financial education covered through Citizenship and Maths, but covers the personal aspects of economic wellbeing.
  • PSHE education is the vehicle through which schools can best ensure they meet many of the Gatsby benchmarks. DfE data shows that the most common approach to careers education is delivery through PSHE lessons (87%), including the crucial early learning in primary years that raises aspirations and broadens understanding of the world of work.
  • Health, relationships, economic wellbeing and successful careers are all linked. PSHE is the glue that binds them together. It gathers all of these aspects of preparing for modern life together into a coherent curriculum subject.

PSHE education is definitely in the spotlight due to the health, relationships and sex education aspects becoming statutory from September 2020. Ofsted is also paying more attention to the subject given the new framework’s greater focus on personal development and supporting students’ future success. Using the updated Programme of Study will support you to clarify your PSHE curriculum’s ‘Intent’ and will provide the starting point for planning the ‘Implementation’ of your curriculum. Using the accompanying assessment guide will help you to demonstrate the ‘Impact’ of PSHE teaching and learning in your school. For more on the new Ofsted inspection framework and PSHE education, see our blog: What does the new Ofsted framework mean for PSHE education?

We have recently published an updated edition of our popular PSHE education planning framework for pupils with SEND to accompany the updated Programme of Study. This framework identifies topics of particular relevance to learners with SEND and maps out progressive learning outcomes within each topic from key stage 1 to 4. The 2020 edition has been expanded to include additional learning outcomes to ensure the framework addresses the new DfE Statutory Guidance for Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education in an appropriate way for pupils with SEND in both mainstream and special school settings.

We haven’t included the early years foundation stage (EYFS) within the Programme of Study as PSHE education is not a discrete curriculum subject within the statutory EYFS framework. However, EYFS is still a great place to start exploring the foundations of PSHE education. The EYFS statutory framework areas of Personal, Social and Emotional development, and Understanding the World, have close links to the PSHE education Programme of Study. Learning and development opportunities for these areas, as well as Communication and language, can be interwoven within the pupils’ experience through daily EYFS play-based activities, role-play areas, quality children’s fiction and reflective discussion to begin to build pupils’ knowledge and understanding, skills, attitudes and attributes related to PSHE elements of education.

1. Health education is already a requirement in independent schools as part of compulsory PSHE education.

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