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New report: teaching unions and children’s charities demand compulsory PSHE in English schools

The new report finds school leaders are overwhelmingly supportive of compulsory PSHE

A group of major teaching unions, charities, and subject organisations have called for personal, social, health, and economic education (PSHE) to be made compulsory in all English schools. In a new report published yesterday, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the National Education Union (NEU) as well as organisations such as the PSHE Association, the Sex Education Forum (SEF), and charities including the NSPCC state that ‘Making PSHE education statutory would improve the lives of children and young people, be popular in the teaching community and needn’t prove a significant burden on school planning or resources.’

Humanists UK is an active member of the PSHE Association, as well as SEF, and has long advocated for the introduction of compulsory PSHE, largely due to its vital role in supporting the delivery of comprehensive relationships and sex education (RSE). In February, Humanists UK responded to the Department for Education’s consultation on PSHE and RSE, stating:

‘RSE is best delivered as part of a wider curriculum promoting health, resilience, confidence, respect, and personal safety, both online and offline… For this reason PSHE must be made compulsory.’

As it stands, PSHE does not have statutory status in state schools and Ofsted estimate that PSHE provision in up to 40% of English schools is ‘not yet good enough’. The report published yesterday found that 90% of NAHT members agreed that PSHE should be statutory and 91% of NEU members agreed PSHE should have regular space on the curriculum.  It also highlighted the benefits PSHE can bring to academic attainment and school performance as well as the wellbeing of pupils, recommending not only that PSHE should be compulsory but also that any teacher involved in the teaching of PSHE should receive specialised training in order to prepare them for the role.

The Government is currently considering the consultation on PSHE and RSE and will reveal in due course whether PSHE is to be made compulsory. This follows legislation passed  last year that made RSE compulsory in all English schools, while also giving the Government power to afford statutory status to PSHE too.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Jay Harman commented, The introduction of compulsory PSHE is long overdue. This report adds to the wealth of existing evidence demonstrating the many benefits PSHE offers to pupils, not least when used to deliver comprehensive, high-quality RSE. After RSE was made compulsory last year, it would be a travesty if the Government failed to act on PSHE as well.’


For further comment or information please contact Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Jay Harman on or 0207 324 3078.

Read the full report:

Read Humanists UK’s previous news item on their response to the Government’s RSE and PSHE consultation:

Read Humanists UK’s full response to the Government’s RSE and PSHE consultation:

Read more about our work on RSE/PSHE:

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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