Should PSHE curriculum get more time after Lockdown?

Updated: Sep 14

PSHE curriculum in the UK from September 2020 will become mandatory for schools, but should PSHE curriculum become the main focus for home learning and when children return to school after lockdown?

Firstly, What is PSHE? If you’re a teacher or a student you will no doubt know the answer, but for some parents it may mean nothing other some random assortment of letters. On our recent podcast Jez, Dr bear and myself – all in our late 30’s don’t recall the subject being taught at all. So what is it? PSHE curriculum stands for Personal, Social, Health and economic. It’s the subject that covers teaching of personal development, social skills, sex education, health education, wellbeing and knowledge about the wider world, along with much more.

Some see PSHE curriculum not as important as teaching the main academic subjects such as English or Maths. However, with the government now making most parts of the PSHE statutory, its apparent that the skills and knowledge learnt through the PSHE curriculum are vital to the education, the health and the long-term success of a student.

Some may argue that academic subjects and success within these areas are still more important than teaching skills around the PSHE curriculum. A study by Suldo et al in 2013 concluded that there is a clear bi lateral connection between academic results and school mental health when they looked at The Impact of School Mental Health on Student and School-Level Academic Outcomes. It is clear that to achieve good results in academic subjects requires a clear focus on maintaining positive student mental health, which can only come through a strong and focused PSHE curriculum.

What affect will the lockdown have on our Childrens health and wellbeing?

The study by Suldo et al study was undertaken well before the current world pandemic, but the message we take from it should be enforced more emphatically in the current crisis. A recent study in Italy by Grechyna noted the numerous high-risk factors to a child’s health during lockdown. She noted that there were high risks to the wellbeing of children;

‘from Increased television viewing linked to obesity, poor oral hygiene, and poor overall health. Additionally, each added hour of television significantly increases the odds of having social or emotional problems such as low self-esteem’ Greychna, 2020

She also noted that a study by McDool et al in 2020 provided some evidence;

‘that the internet negatively affects children’s psychological wellbeing. For children who can read and surf internet, the prolonged time indoors can increase the negative impact of internet on health.’ Greychna, 2020

The chances are that every child will be getting more screen time than normal during lockdown, so the above findings are extremely concerning. Along with the above risks Grechyn also notes that children who have been lockdown in smaller houses, with less access to gardens, have an increase risk of reduced physical activity, greater second hand smoke exposure and indoor air Pollution.

So how can teachers and schools use the PSHE curriculum to support their childrens wellbeing in lockdown and on their return to school?


We spoke to Jayne Wright from Flourishing schools. She is the Founder of Flourishing Schools an organization that works to support the wellbeing of staff and pupils in all educational settings. She gave us some advice for schools and teachers who want to start offering PSHE at home and issues to consider in preparation for schools opening their doors to a wider cohort.

Teaching PSHE curriculum in Lockdown

Jayne recommended some fabulous organisations and charities that offer resources and share materials that can either be adapted for home learning or can be used as they are for instance;

PSHE AssociationYoung Citizens – SMSCAlcohol Education Trust – Alcohol education

Considerations for PSHE curriculum after Lockdown

Jayne noted that many children will likely return confused or anxious, which could present in as unpredictable behaviour. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs says that we cannot self-actualise if we do not feel safe and secure, therefore learning will be limited until such issues are addressed, which further demonstrates why the PSHE curriculum has to be first key focus when schools fully open their doors again. In summary;

  1. The PSHE curriculum is now more important than ever.

  2. PSHE will be statutory in Sept 2020 so schools will need time on the curriculum, a Leader, resources and a spiral curriculum.

Plan the next steps :

  1. How can we welcome our pupils back – do we need a new curriculum?

  2. How can we be prepared – plan a scheme of work, investigate resources, train leaders and staff…

  3. How can we prepare our staff? Training, resources and confidence.

Jayne’s three main tips for creating great PSHE curriculum lessons?

  1. Active learning (drama – hot-seating/role play, write & draw, continuum lines…) with a focus on skill development, as well as knowledge and opportunities to clarify their attitudes and values.

  2. Delivered by trained and confident teachers – confident delivery, using ground rules, less poster creation & death by worksheets and more active learning.

  3. Planned spiral curriculum that covers more than the basic RSHE government statutory status guidance e.g Political literacy, media literacy, emotional literacy – mindfulness, volunteering – active citizenship, careers, law…

In conclusion, schools and teachers should prepare now to focus on the health and wellbeing aspects of the PSHE curriculum ready for their children’s return. Schools can download a sample lesson resource from PSHE Flourishing Lives

At life on time we are also looking for schools to test our new personal development and wellbeing platform which will enable you to offer your students PSHE curriculum while in lockdown. Please contact us here if you would like to book a demo.

Written by Jon Ford

Did you know we also have a podcast which relates to what we have dicussed in this article. Find it here PSHE curriculum PODCAST

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