PSHE Education – still a work in progress?
How do we keep PSHE at the forefront of everyone’s minds beyond the implementation of the statutory elements? Here are a few top tips to keep in mind to ensure it has a high profile:
So, here we finally are. After the delay in implementation of the statutory relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) requirements from September 2020, Summer term 2021 marks the ‘start’ of statutory RSHE – not quite all of PSHE, but it will certainly do for now! It’s been a long road to get here though! I remember 2010 when we were oh-so-close to PSHE becoming statutory, only for the general election to bring in a new Government with different priorities. After years of hard work and lobbying by a myriad of organisations and professionals across the country, a decade later here we are with statutory RSHE.
Whilst it might feel like the culmination of all that hard work, in truth we all still have lots to do to ensure that PSHE, as the vehicle for delivery of the statutory requirements and more, is consistently as effective and impactful as we all know it can be. Many schools already teach the majority of the statutory components of RSHEas part of a wider programme of PSHE education and have done so for years. But, as many PSHE leads across the country will know, it is a subject that has often fallen by the wayside and perhaps not been given the profile it deserves – even though we all acknowledge its importance to our pupils and wider school improvement.
So how do we keep PSHE at the forefront of everyone’s minds beyond the implementation of the statutory elements? Here are a few top tips to keep in mind to ensure it has a high profile:
- Status of the PSHE subject lead – it sounds obvious, but is your role on a par with other subject leads? Think release time, budget – maybe even a TLR?! Either way, your status as a subject lead will send a message as to the value placed on the subject, so it is important!
- Training & development – regular CPD is especially important as many staff will have had little or no formal training to help support them in the delivery of the new requirements as part of PSHE. As a subject lead, you may also want to develop your own role and skillset, so ensuring a regular and effective staff development programme is vital
- Monitoring & evaluation – remember that release time? Well, you should be using some of that for a robust and meaningful subject monitoring cycle. Whatever gets done for other subjects, make sure it’s also done for PSHE. Use the same kind of format you would elsewhere (learning walks, work scrutiny, the voice of the learner, lesson observations, etc.) and make good use of the information you find.
- Assess – PSHE is often perceived as being difficult to assess – but with the right activities, you can get all the information you need from your pupils to make sound judgements about their progress. And let’s be honest, without assessment, can we really monitor and evaluate our provision properly, or argue our corner as to the value of PSHE if we’re the only subject that doesn’t really assess?
- SLT/Governor support – Making sure that you have firm SLT support is crucial to the success and status of PSHE in school. If you are a lone voice in a busy curriculum, you won’t get very far! Really make those links between wider school improvement and strategic drivers (think Ofsted, safeguarding, SMSC etc.) Ensure you have a direct link into SLT who can support your role, and ideally a Governor who has a remit that would cover PSHE. If you can make sure that your School Development Plan or other strategic documents have outcomes linked to PSHE then even better.
- Engage – I’m sure that most PSHE leads will be sick of the word ‘consultation’ by now but engaging with your school community is a great way to boost the profile of the subject. It can also give you some great data to support planning or as part of your monitoring and evaluation of PSHE. Make it regular and meaningful though!
- Timetable it – aah, the age-old dilemma for PSHE! Let’s be honest, whatever phase you work in, PSHE has usually been the subject that has either slipped off the timetable or been delivered in a drop-down afternoon, hasn’t it? Well, it is a long-established best practice that regular, timetabled PSHE is the way to deliver. Health weeks and off-timetable days are great – but always ‘as well as, not instead of’. Plus, the statutory RSHE guidance says that the curriculum should be “communicated clearly to pupils, in a carefully sequenced way, within a planned programme or lessons”.
Having worked with such a range of different schools and professionals in my career, I am completely convinced that effective PSHE is the bedrock upon which schools should build their practice. Regardless of ‘what type of school you are’, the fundamental skills, knowledge, and understanding that our children need to develop to be safe, happy, and successful are based within PSHE education. To give it the platform it needs, we all need to do our best to keep it in the spotlight.
Colleagues who would like to find out more about the PSHE support available from Health & Wellbeing in Schools can email Russell via firstname.lastname@example.org and also view a range of PSHE-related training opportunities which are regularly updated here.