Major PSHE Discovery Conference highlights headteachers’ support for “curriculum for life” subject

Over 40 headteachers and subject experts have gathered in Manchester to discuss the importance of PSHE education in England.

Hosted by Headway, a social enterprise which provides teachers and pupils with the most up-to-date teaching materials possible, the PSHE Discovery Conference on 4thJuly brought together sector leaders to explore creative and innovative approaches to PSHE. It also looked at preparations for statutory Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in secondary schools and relationships education in primary schools.


The outcome of a Department for Education consultation on ‘Changes to the teaching of Sex and Relationship Education and PSHE’, which could see PSHE also become compulsory in primary schools from September 2019, is due to be announced shortly. But Hayley Sherwood, creator of the Headway 1decision PSHE programme for primary schools, insisted that both RSE and PSHE now needed to be statutory.

“The focus on RSE takes the emphasis away from other important related areas which are covered in PSHE,” she said. “Children need to understand personal boundaries and gain the knowledge, vocabulary and confidence to cope when they are faced with a difficult situation or dilemma. By empowering children with these skills they will know what to do if they come across something they think is wrong. For the current generation, this will help them as future adults, and in turn their children, and with a sustained effort we can improve society long-term. Education is the solution and PSHE is the main vehicle to bring about the change needed. PSHE covers a range of topics and therefore requires schools to have specialist training and specialist resources. If you take our 1decision learning resources, for example, schools can engage children in issues including online safety, differences within religion, same sex marriage, appropriate touch and peer pressure.”


At the conference guest speaker Tanya Cross, Schools Health and Wellbeing Adviser at Stockport Council, said that PSHE should be seen as a key aspect of a “curriculum for life”.  “Although PSHE remains a non-statutory subject it significantly contributes to schools’ statutory responsibilities on safeguarding and wellbeing,” she explained. “Schools must also offer a balanced/broad-based curriculum which promotes the Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) development of pupils, and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. Schools, in partnership with parents and carers, have a vital role in preparing children and young people to negotiate the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly complex world. PSHE education is the school subject that deals with real life issues affecting our children, families and communities. It is a subject through which pupils develop the knowledge, skills and attributes that they need to keep themselves healthy and safe, and prepares them for life and work in the 21stcentury. For PSHE to be effective it needs to be a whole school approach, which supports children and young people to reach their full potential and thrive to lead happy and fulfilling lives. The programme of study must be relevant, age-appropriate and inclusive of all learners.”

Another speaker, former Ofsted National Leader for PSHE education Janet Palmer, highlighted the features of good or outstanding PSHE. “Leaders and managers believe that pupils’ success in PSHE education is central to their overall success,” she said. “As a result, the subject is high profile, well-resourced and supported by a governing body that understands the aims and aspirations of PSHE education. Subject leaders are trained in leadership and the high expectations of teachers and support staff are supported by regular, high-quality subject-specific training and the provision of good-quality resources. It should come as no surprise that the key features of good and outstanding practice in PSHE mirror good and outstanding practice in any subject in the curriculum. Research and Ofsted’s PSHE survey show that the knowledge, skills, qualities and attitudes that pupils develop through a good PSHE education can help to safeguard them, enhance their SMSC development and enhance their achievement in all areas of school life and beyond.”

Jim Nicholson, Headteacher at Mellor Primary School in Stockport, said that 1decision was a vital supporting resource. “The on-screen lesson guides are simply amazing and have really facilitated deeper thinking – the depth of engagement by the children is phenomenal and the level of discussion has astounded me,” he added.

For more information please contact Phil Smith, Headway PR consultant, on 01778 218180 / 07866 436159 /

10 July 2018

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