December 2018


  • Divergent Pathways
    Education across the UK is heading in different directions and one day, says Geoff Barton, we'll look back and see that we've all been part of an extraordinary educational experiment. More
  • You're not alone
    Managing a school can be the most rewarding and the toughest role of your life, says one headteacher. Here he describes the support he received from ASCL in helping him through a low point in his career. More
  • Lead from the middle
    Headteacher Andrew Clay explains the evaluation and planning model he uses at Coundon Court School to help middle leaders develop their critical thinking and evaluation skills, and produce effective departmental improvement plans. More
  • Planning for PSHE
    CEO of the PSHE Association Jonathan Baggaley sets out the implications of mandatory health and relationships and sex education, and shares tips on how schools can prepare. More
  • A year in review
    Chief Social Scientist Angela Donkin reviews the research carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) in 2018. More
  • Mark my words
    Latest research by Oxford University Press (OUP) has revealed a significant and increasing word gap in schools. To help address this, two OUP experts share some teachers' practical steps. More
Bookmark and Share

CEO of the PSHE Association Jonathan Baggaley sets out the implications of mandatory health and relationships and sex education, and shares tips on how schools can prepare.

Planning for PSHE

The relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education aspects of personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education will be mandatory for all schools from 2020, but schools are strongly encouraged to ensure that their provision is up to standard in advance. Many schools already offer high-quality PSHE, while others can prepare to meet the new requirements with a few straightforward steps. 

A recap on the new requirements 

The government announced in July that it will be mandatory for schools to teach health education from 2020, following a wide-ranging call for evidence led by ASCL past president Ian Bauckham CBE. This is in addition to previous commitments to mandatory RSE in all secondary schools, and mandatory ‘relationships education’ in all primaries. This effectively makes PSHE education statutory, with only the ‘E’ for economic wellbeing and careers strand not yet compulsory, but still a vital part, as we outline below. 

Draft guidance ( on what health education and RSE should cover was open for consultation until recently. Once updated, this guidance will be subject to parliamentary debate before being finalised and available to schools. (We expect this to be ready for September 2019.) The draft guidance was wide-ranging with much to welcome, although we had concerns about certain aspects, which we summarised in a recent blog ( 

Why is this important? 

These are major steps towards better PSHE for all, and recognition of the growing support for statutory status in recent years, including welcome support from ASCL and other leading teaching unions, as well as more than 100 national organisations, 92% of parents, 92% of pupils and 88% of teachers. When delivered well, PSHE education benefits health, wellbeing and academic success (, so this will help all students in all schools to benefit. 

How will schools be expected to meet these commitments? 

The March 2018 Teacher Voice Omnibus Survey report ( showed that 85% of schools already teach PSHE that covers health, relationships and sex. The new requirements are about ensuring an equivalent experience of high-quality PSHE education for all children and young people. 

There is an emphasis in the draft guidance on having “the same high expectations of the quality of pupils’ work” as for other curriculum areas, and that “a strong curriculum will build on the knowledge pupils have previously acquired … with regular feedback provided on pupil progress”. 

These points are important when considering delivery models – for PSHE education to meet these expectations it needs to be taught through regular, timetabled lessons. This allows for continuity and progression, and the ability to assess progress and impact. See our guidance on PSHE delivery models ( 

What can you do now to ensure your school is ready? 

There is much that schools can begin to do now to prepare their PSHE, including: 

  • Think about who will be responsible: There should be an experienced and well-trained PSHE lead in place, but this alone cannot guarantee high-quality provision. To be effective they need your full and active support as school leaders. Our recent blog ( goes into greater depth. 
  • Evaluate current provision: Identifying strengths and areas for development is the best place to start. Our PSHE subject review tool provides a comprehensive framework to inform development planning (sign up and see the tool at 
  • Ensure robust policies are in place: Schools will be required to have an RSE policy, but we strongly advise a unified PSHE policy that includes RSE, health education and economic wellbeing and careers aspects of the subject. See our guidance on writing your RSE policy ( and guidance on writing broader PSHE policies ( 
  • Train your PSHE lead and team: All schools should have a PSHE lead who is appropriately trained for the role, and any teachers involved in PSHE teaching should have received some level of training. Training on preparing for both statutory RSE (secondary) and relationships education (primary) is included in our range of courses on planning, evaluating and assessing PSHE ( We’re also working on a range of additional events around the country next year to support schools to meet new requirements. 
  • Update your curriculum and resources: Our free-to-download PSHE Programme of Study ( is signposted by the DfE as the broad framework to follow when planning provision. We also have a range of materials for members, including our PSHE Education Planning Toolkits ( and PSHE Lead’s packs on preparing for statutory RSE ( Our Quality Mark for PSHE resources helps schools choose wisely when it comes to selecting resources. And we strongly advise that schools tailor PSHE to their own needs, rather than relying solely on off-the-shelf solutions. 

What about economic wellbeing and careers education? 

PSHE remains the most appropriate means to effectively deliver economic literacy and wellbeing, careers education and employability skills. It’s the subject through which the personal aspects of economic wellbeing – for example, understanding personal debt, managing peer pressure around spending, being entrepreneurial, and developing employability – are covered. 

Although not yet mandatory, schools shouldn’t unpick economic wellbeing and careers from broader PSHE. Health, relationships, economic wellbeing, and having the knowledge and skills for successful careers are all linked and PSHE is the glue that binds them together; it gathers these aspects of preparing for modern life together into a coherent curriculum subject. 

These changes must work for schools as well as for children and young people, and we look forward to working with ASCL and school leaders to make the most of these opportunities.

Find out more

The PSHE Association is the national body for personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education – a charity and membership association dedicated to supporting schools’ provision through training, resources and guidance.

Find out more at by emailing or by calling 020 7922 7450.

Jonathan Baggaley
CEO of the PSHE Association