What is PSHCE in schools?

First, the obvious question: What does PSHCE stand for? PSHE stands for Personal, Social, Health, Citizenship and Economic Education.


Birchwood High School is committed to the provision of relationships and sex education for all students at the school. In line with current recommendations from the DfE (Department for Education) the content will deal with physical, emotional and moral issues. The teaching offered to students is intended to be supportive and complementary to that provided by their families.

Parents are able to withdraw their children from any part of the sex education programme other than the elements of the National Curriculum for Science. Parents who wish to do so should make contact with the school in writing.

Health and sex education is taught by the Science Faculty.  Sex education starts in Year 7 concentrating on biological understanding.  From Year 8 upwards Personal Development sessions progressively consider relationships and the social, moral and ethical aspects.  This approach is supported by representatives from the local Health Authority, external agencies such as Relate, theatre groups and the school first aiders.

At Birchwood High school we work with the PSHE Association and follow a Thematic scheme of work.

The three core elements of PSHCE are:

  • Relationships
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Living in the Wider World

Schools are free to determine how to deliver their PSHCE content. Teaching on the PSHCE curriculum includes a range of activities from role-play, debates and discussions to quizzes, labelling diagrams and designing posters.

The PSHCE school curriculum covers sensitive subjects. These are taught using distancing techniques to allow children to safely explore topics and ask questions, without needing to discuss personal experiences or provide personal responses. Children might talk about fictional characters in certain scenarios and think about what these characters could do. At Birchwood students have the option of using question boxes to anonymously or confidentially ask questions about topics they have covered in their PSHCE lessons.