• From 2020, all schools must provide PSHE education that covers health and relationships/RSE  
  • The PSHE Association welcomes publication of new government guidance to help schools deliver this core PSHE content and raise standards
  • The Association calls curriculum changes a ‘huge boost’ for children, young people and its national membership of PSHE teachers
  • Economic wellbeing and careers education remain vital aspects of PSHE, though not yet compulsory

The Department for Education has today launched statutory guidance to accompany introduction of compulsory health education, relationships education and relationships and sex education (RSE) in 2020.

The government announced compulsory health education last year along with relationships education in all primary schools and ‘relationships and sex education’ (RSE) in all secondary schools. The new guidance has been updated to reflect consultation on draft guidance late last year, and covers a range of issues relating to physical and mental health, wellbeing, safeguarding and healthy relationships.

PSHE (personal, social, health and economic) education is the vehicle through which schools deliver health, relationships and RSE education on the curriculum. Schools are now encouraged to begin updating their PSHE provision in order to be ready for 2020.

PSHE education also covers economic wellbeing and careers. With the emergence of issues such as online gambling and the urgent need to better-prepare young people for the world of work, the PSHE Association – the national body for PSHE – stresses the importance of covering PSHE in its entirety, even though these aspects are not yet compulsory.

PSHE Association Chief Executive Jonathan Baggaley said:

“We strongly welcome this government commitment to compulsory education on mental and physical health, RSE and relationships. Parents, teachers and young people have been crying out for more focus on PSHE education, so will be delighted that this core content will be guaranteed on the school curriculum. The PSHE Association looks forward to supporting all schools to make the most of this huge opportunity. We're busy updating our member resources and training to reflect the new statutory guidance.

91% of school leaders surveyed by NAHT believe PSHE should be taught in regular timetabled lessons, these changes should give them more confidence to prioritise a subject that has up-to-now been vulnerable to being squeezed from the curriculum in many schools. Of course training and support are key to making these changes a success, and we look forward to details of steps the DfE will take to ensure anyone delivering PSHE is equipped to do so safely and effectively.

Parents will also support schools dedicating time to teaching about health, relationships and staying safe; a 2016 YouGov survey of over 1000 parents found that 92% want government to ensure all pupils are given PSHE lessons about staying safe. Parents are also increasingly concerned about young people’s mental health and the complexity of life online, so will value schools offering more support in such areas.

While a great step forward, these changes only outline what will be compulsory, not all that is necessary to prepare children and young people for the modern world. Careers education and economic wellbeing are most commonly delivered through PSHE and, though not compulsory, are certainly necessary. It’s vital therefore that schools cover all three PSHE strands – health, relationships and economic wellbeing/careers – coherently, to ensure everyone leaves school with the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in a challenging world.”


  1. Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education is a school subject that supports pupils to be healthy, safe and prepared for modern life. The PSHE education curriculum covers a range of pressing – and often related – issues facing children and young people today, including those relating to mental and physical health, relationships, staying safe and aware online, economic wellbeing and careers.
  2. The PSHE Association is the national body for PSHE education. A charity and membership organisation, the Association works to improve PSHE education standards by supporting a national network of teachers and schools with advice, training and resources. Find out more at www.pshe-association.org.uk
  3. Up to now PSHE has been a non-compulsory subject and therefore vulnerable to being dropped or squeezed from the curriculum. Department for Education data suggests that provision decreased by over 32% at key stages 3 and 4 between 2011 and 2015.
  4. The PSHE Association has led the campaign for PSHE education to be compulsory to arrest and reverse this decline. https://www.pshe-association.org.uk/campaigns.
  5. Key findings from NAHT’s 2018 survey on PSHE and RSE, including that 91% of school leaders believe PSHE should be taught in regular timetabled lessons: https://www.naht.org.uk/EasySiteWeb/GatewayLink.aspx?alId=79596
  6. 2016 YouGov survey over 1000 parents showing 92% support for government to ensure all pupils are given PSHE lessons about staying safe https://www.pshe-association.org.uk/sites/default/files/u18202/Results%20for%20PSHE%20Association%20%28Parents%29%20-%20England.pdf
  7. Compulsory PSHE education is supported by 85% of business leaders, 88% of teachers, 92% of parents, 92% of pupils, the Children’s Commissioner, the Chief Medical Officer and the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for child sexual abuse, Public Health England, 100 leading organisations including the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, the NSPCC, the Children’s Society, Barnardo’s and a host of leading Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, including the Commons Education, Home Affairs and Women and Equalities Committees, the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the chairs of Commons Health and Business, Innovation and Skills Committees. https://www.pshe-association.org.uk/curriculumforlife
  8. Contact John Dillon at the PSHE Association with enquiries: 020 7922 7950 / john.dillon@pshe-association.org.uk