Examining the impact of Personal, Social, Health and Economic education for the PSHE Association
The PSHE Association (personal, social, health and economic education) is both a charity and membership association, representing PSHE teachers and offering them support through guidance, training and resources. They also promote the teaching of quality, evidence-based PSHE in all schools throughout England, campaigning for PSHE practitioners and working with local authorities, academy chains and corporate, voluntary and public-sector bodies. They aim to ensure that every student in the country receives high-quality, regular PSHE education which results in better academic achievement, emotional wellbeing and preparedness for the world of work.
However, PSHE education is not statutory and as such, many pupils across England do not have adequate PSHE instruction. Many do not have any at all. PSHE Association approached PBE to help them respond to a call for evidence by the Department for Education looking at the impacts of PSHE education on academic attainment, attendance and behaviour.
There is a lot of literature on the impact of PSHE education on students, however there has not been any synthesis work conducted to draw together key information on the benefits of PSHE in schools in the form of a review. Pro Bono Economics matched volunteer economists Andrew Barnard, Ravi Sharma, Andrew Carey, Amy Regan and Justin Seth, to review the literature and draw it together. They focussed on three aspects of PSHE’s impact: behaviour, attainment and attendance, looking at short term impacts and highlighting opportunities for long term assessment. The report, which covers over 1200 studies, examines national and international evidence to determine how PSHE's positive impact on physical and mental health might lead to improved attainment and life chances.
The study showed strong evidence that PSHE education has a positive impact on academic attainment and does not detract from other core curriculum subjects, as critics often suggest. The analysis found that school-based anti-bullying programmes resulted in a decrease in bullying and victimisation, and showed children with higher levels of behavioural, emotional, social and school wellbeing have higher levels of academic achievement.
PSHE Association used the report in a press and media campaign around the government call for evidence and achieved significant coverage. The report findings were submitted to the Department for Education and are being considered as evidence in the case for making PSHE statutory in schools across England.
PBE Trustee view:
Diane Coyle, Pro Bono Economics Trustee and professor of economics at the University of Manchester (and, from March 2018, inaugural Bennett Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge):
“This report summarises the positive impact on academic attainment, including through benefits to physical health, mental health and behaviour, all of which greatly affect students not just in the classroom, but continue to benefit them in their adult life. The value of this Pro Bono Economics report is to establish from the literature the evidence that PSHE is effective in these respects”
Dame Alison Peacock, Chief Executive of the Chartered College of Teaching:
“This review is timely. School leaders and teachers are increasingly interested in responding to evidence about approaches to pedagogy, curriculum design and assessment. It is essential that we learn more about optimal ways of supporting the development of children and young people’s capacity to learn and thrive.”
Jonathan Baggaley, Chief Executive of the PSHE Association:
“By supporting mental health, physical health, safeguarding and healthy relationships, PSHE education removes numerous barriers to learning, clearing the way for pupils to succeed in their academic studies while gaining invaluable knowledge and skills for life. It must therefore be prioritised so that all children in all schools receive regular PSHE lessons, taught by trained teachers. Many thanks to Pro Bono Economics for their exhaustive work on this review”