PSHE education equips pupils to live healthy, safe, productive, capable, responsible and balanced lives. It encourages them to be enterprising and supports them in making effective transitions, positive learning and career choices and in achieving economic wellbeing. A critical component of PSHE education is providing opportunities for children and young people to reflect on and clarify their own values and attitudes and explore the complex and sometimes conflicting range of values and attitudes they encounter now and in the future.
PSHE education is a planned, developmental programme of learning through which children and young people acquire the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to manage their lives now and in the future. As part of a whole-school approach, PSHE education develops the qualities and attributes pupils need to thrive as individuals, family members and members of society.
PSHE education contributes to personal development by helping pupils to build their confidence, resilience and self-esteem, and to identify and manage risk, make informed choices and understand what influences their decisions. It enables them to recognise, accept and shape their identities, to understand and accommodate difference and change, to manage emotions and to communicate constructively in a variety of settings. Developing an understanding of themselves, empathy and the ability to work with others will help pupils to form and maintain good relationships, develop the essential skills for future employability and better enjoy and manage their lives.
PSHE education can help schools to reduce or remove many of the barriers to learning experienced by pupils, significantly improving their capacity to learn and achieve. The PSHE education programme makes a significant contribution to pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development, their behaviour and safety and the school’s statutory responsibility to promote pupils’ wellbeing. In addition the learning provided through a comprehensive PSHE education provision is essential to safeguarding pupils, as Ofsted has set out.
The PSHE Association has identified key principles for effective practice in PSHE education and produced guidance on the key principles of effective prevention education, both of which are is available to download. In relation to the above, the aim for PSHE education is to provide pupils with:
- A accurate, balanced and relevant knowledge
- opportunities to turn that knowledge into personal understanding
- opportunities to explore, clarify and if necessary challenge, their own and others’ values, attitudes, beliefs, rights and responsibilities
- the skills, language and strategies they need in order to live healthy, safe, fulfilling, responsible and balanced lives
- opportunities to develop positive personal attributes such as resilience, self-confidence, self-esteem, and empathy
PSHE Association 2017
There are a number of reasons why it is important that learning in PSHE education is assessed. It is important for pupils to have opportunities to reflect on their learning, assessment also increases pupils’ motivation and improves learning as their raised awareness of their development illustrates the value of their learning. It is important for teachers to feel confident that learning has taken place, to be able to demonstrate progress, and to identify future learning needs. It also allows the leadership team, parents, governors and school inspectors to see the impact that PSHE education is having for pupils and for whole school outcomes, such as Ofsted judgements on personal development, behaviour and welfare, safeguarding, spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development and the promotion of fundamental British values. Without assessing your PSHE education, all you can do is describe your provision; you cannot show its impact.
The essential skills and attributes identified in the programme of study are arguably the hardest aspect of learning to assess. It is difficult for teachers to accurately assess a pupils’ self-confidence or sense of their own identity and values. However, pupils themselves will be able to judge, for instance, whether they feel more confident, or have a firmer sense of their own beliefs and opinions than they did before a particular series of lessons. Such personal reflection in PSHE education lessons is essential, so ensuring pupils have time and space within the lessons to reflect on this, either privately or through discussion, is a vital part of the assessment process. Assessing learning in PSHE education must therefore use a combination of teacher assessment and pupil self- and peer assessment.
It would be inappropriate for assessment in PSHE education to be about levels or grades, passing or failing. The model of assessment that is most meaningful in PSHE education is ipsative assessment. Ipsative assessment compares where a pupil is at the end of a lesson or series of lessons against where they were before the lesson(s), in a similar way to an athlete measuring today’s performance against their own previous performance. So the benchmark against which progress is measured is the pupil’s own starting point, not the performance of others or the requirements of an exam syllabus.