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Understanding Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education in Secondary Schools

Understanding Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education in Secondary Schools

First Edition

October 2016 | 336 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
This book provides an overview essential for a proper understanding of effective approaches to PSHE education in secondary education and the valuable role it can play in promoting the health and wellbeing of adolescents.


Coverage includes:

  • The importance and scope of PSHE education
  • The theory and research evidence for effective practice in the secondary school
  • School structures which support effective teaching and learning in PSHE education
  • Assessment for, and of, learning in PSHE education
  • The role of visiting experts in PSHE education
  • Overlaps with pastoral and therapeutic support
Part 1
Understanding adolescent development
Theory, evidence and practical approaches to effective teaching and learning in PSHE education
The organisation of PSHE education in the curriculum
Starting 'where young people are': planning learning in PSHE education
Assessment learning in PSHE education
Part 2
Understanding risk during adolescence
Understanding the role of PSHE in promoting mental health and emotional wellbeing
Understanding drug education within PSHE education
Understanding relationships and sex education (RSE) within PSHE education
Economic wellbeing and PSHE education
Part 3
PSHE education and school policy matters
Understanding the relationship between PSHE education, pastoral care and therapeutic interventions
Selecting PSHE education teaching material and resources and the effective use of visitors to the classroom
Part 4
Appendix 1: Using story, ‘case studies’ and timeline in PSHE education
Appendix 2: Summary of organisational models for the teaching of PSHE education
Appendix 3: Baseline assessment tools
Appendix 4: Key data on adolescence in 2015

Understanding PSHE Education in Secondary Schools is an accessible read for all educators concerned with promoting and delivering high quality PSHE education. It provides a theoretical underpinning to the subject, as well as practical ideas and case-studies.  It is invaluable in its guidance for the PSHE subject leader on how s/he might organise the curriculum content, model of delivery and activities, what works well and what to avoid. It focuses on developing skills and attitudes, as well as knowledge, to ensure that young people are equipped for life beyond school and into the future. The approach is positive and inclusive, clearly steering the reader away from shock tactics and didactic messages in favour of empowerment and pro-choice teaching.


Throughout the book there are opportunities for the reader to reflect on one's personal values and experiences and activities to support the refining of one's own teaching of PSHE education.


The most challenging and sensitive subjects within PSHE are considered candidly and honestly with clear application opportunities in real-life situations, thus supporting the educator to be prepared and confident in his/her teaching. The context is very much up-to-date and relevant to the teaching of young people in an ever-changing world.   




Julie McCann
School Improvement Officer, Liverpool

An excellent resources not just for newly qualified teachers of PSHE but all teachers. It is a good resource manual to refer to when trying to achieve best practise in PSHE teaching.It is laid out very clearly with aims and objectives clearly indicated which teachers can identify with. The information is current and unto date including reference to the new Character Education framework.It sets out the importance of setting ground rules and includes guidance on teaching sensitive issues. Clear referencing aids further study for those teachers who may want to pursue further research into a specific topic.It highlights the importance of the subject not only to the students themselves, but to the school’s need to safeguard children and provide teaching models for school to adopt in order to meet Ousted’s ‘Outstanding’ criteria..This is a handbook for every PSHE lead.

Marilyn Worthington

This is a highly informative and usable text that would be particularly suited to teachers embarking on their first pastoral role. It covers lots of vital areas of PSHE, including adolescent development, emotional health, drugs and sex education, and explores some of the links between these areas and relevant policy. The tone of the discussion in the text is accessible and direct. It also contains activities and opportunities for reflection that new teachers will find very helpful.

Dr Louise Campbell
Moray House School of Education, Edinburgh University
February 17, 2017

Jenny McWhirter

Dr Jenny McWhirter is a freelance researcher and author who has been interested in the health and well being of children and young people since working as a part time youth worker in the 1980s.  She has been researching effective approaches to PSHE education for more than 25 years.  At Southampton University she managed an MSc in Health Education with Health Promotion and developed a special study in PSHE and Citizenship for the secondary PGCE programme.  Her research includes many aspects of PSHE education, including personal finance, asthma and drug education.  After leaving academia in 2003, Jenny worked for... More About Author

Nick Boddington

Starting his career as an art and mathematics teacher working in both primary and secondary schools in north London, Nick Boddington joined the Advisory Service where he specialised in the teaching of sensitive issues including SRE, HIV, bullying and drug education.  One of the first Ofsted Inspectors to be trained, he left the Advisory Service as Lead Senior Adviser for Children’s Wellbeing for Essex to take up his current position as Subject Lead with the national PSHE Association. Nick is committed to a model of PSHE that places children’s individual and unique understanding of their world and their own enquiry at the centre... More About Author

Jenny Barksfield

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