SHEU response to the Review of Personal, Social, Health and Economics (PSHE) Education

Review of Personal, Social, Health and Economics (PSHE) Education

Response Form

The closing date is: 30 November 2011

Q1) What do you consider the core outcomes PSHE education should achieve and what areas of basic core knowledge and awareness should pupils be expected to acquire at school through PSHE education?

We have no very important bones to pick with the existing PSHE education outcomes described in current guidance. If there is a dimension that we would like to see enhanced, it is the connections between PSHE education and citizenship. Critical self-reflection and critical thinking are close relations and insights from one area will enhance the other.

Knowledge and awareness are really only part of what we hope can be achieved through PSHE education; skills are as important. For example, we know that doctors are three times more likely than the rest of the population to have cirrhosis of the liver, yet surely their knowledge and awareness of the consequences of alcohol misuse exceed what most of us ever achieve. What their long medical education may not have given them are the skills to recognise distress in themselves, to identify problematic coping behaviours, and to seek help when appropriate. We hope that the strong emphasis given to key processes and skills in earlier guidance carries through to any new documentation.


Q2) Have you got any evidence that demonstrates why a) existing elements and b) new elements should be part of the PSHE education curriculum?
Your answer should provide a summary of the evidence and where appropriate contain the title, author and publication date of research.

The findings from our recent report[1], the latest in a series stretching for 25 years[2], show that, while many young people are getting through their adolescence in good order, some young people are either making health-risky choices now, or are not adopting appropriate habits which are more likely to keep them comfortable in the future, or both. The whole series shows a series of long-term trends, some positive, some not so welcome. Just to take two obvious challenges, we have seen a gradual increase in the proportion of pupils who do not live with both mother and father, and a much more sudden and dramatic increase in the proportion of pupils who have unsupervised access to the Internet.

We have taken a very wide view of health in our work, to include most topics that are usually considered under the umbrella of PSHE education, and in our view the findings constitute strong evidence that the existing scope of PSHE education curriculum is not too large, and should be maintained. We have findings indicating some level of concern around diet, physical activity, sex and relationships, family life, leisure activities, bullying, accidents, safety online, substance use, emotional wellbeing, physical health and use of health services, inequalities, financial capability, aggressive and violent behaviour in the home, aspirations and happiness[3].

We will draw on particular pieces of evidence below.


Q3) Which elements of PSHE education, if any, should be made statutory (in addition to sex education) within the basic curriculum?

We have no dissent from the findings of the MacDonald review[4], which concluded on the basis of the available evidence that a comprehensive PSHE education programme should be made a statutory requirement, and that existing programmes of study were a reasonable starting point. We are not aware of any more recent evidence that would dissuade us from that conclusion.

We do not understand why this recommendation was not implemented by the last Government or the current one, nor why the question has been raised once more.

We note below that making something statutory is not sufficient by itself. Schools need to be supported in their development, to be inspected against robust standards for PSHE education, to be able to recruit and/or train qualified staff, and, if other pressures are making timetabling inadequate, then these pressures have to be reduced.


Q4) Are the National, non-statutory frameworks and programmes of study an effective way of defining content?




Not Sure

'Effective' is an odd word to use. If the ultimate test of these documents is the eventual impact on classroom practice, then I think we would judge them at best only partly effective. But yes, content is effectively defined this way.

Moreover, as noted above, content is only part of the story. The approach in the classroom (and outside) is as important. The programmes of study do make this point clear.

The documents could do with a polish. There is appropriate mention of religious belief throughout, but no mention of non-religious beliefs, while our work suggests that a declining number of teenagers have any sort of religious belief[5]. There are some anomalies (menstruation needs to be in KS2) and omissions (civil partnerships) to be repaired, and probably other revision is needed. When the documents are revised, we commend the range of materials various collated, developed and under development from the PSHE Association.


Q5) How can schools better decide for themselves what more pupils need to know, in consultation with parents and others locally?

We welcome the hint in this question (by use of the word 'more') that this consultation will be used only to enhance, and not restrict, a minimum PSHE education programme. We would much prefer this to be a definite and unambiguous instruction than a hint. We do not believe that parents/carers or schools (including schools with a religious foundation and schools outside local authority control) have the right to deny a pupil their entitlement to good PSHE education, including education about sex and relationships, any more than they have a right to deny a child appropriate exposure to arithmetic.

Schools should seek their own evidence about the views of pupils and parents. We have been working in this field since the 1970s [6][7][8]. We published evidence in 1989[9] to show that there was a broad consensus of parents, teachers and pupils who wanted a wide variety of topics in PSHE education to be covered by primary schools -- not 'if time was available', but a more definite 'should be included'. We can show a similar consensus for secondary schools[10], and everything we have seen since confirms this view [11] [12].

We continue to help schools to consult their local communities. However, the views of parents, parents and pupils about priorities for the curriculum can be misinformed because they misjudge the actual local prevalence of different problem behaviours[13][14][15]. If a teacher believes that there is none of that in my school or a parent thinks all the kids round here are at it, then their sincere opinions may be based on mistaken beliefs about the social world of children, and inappropriate decisions get made about the PSHE education programme.

So, again since the late 1970s, we have been helping schools find out about the actual local prevalence of different health and social behaviours about young people, their worries and their wellbeing, so that the resulting picture can form the starting point for consultation and discussion about the content, timing and approach to different topics in PSHE education[16][17]. We strongly believe discussion of priorities for a school can best be conducted (a) in consultation with its local community, and (b) based on a foundation of evidence.[18]

We quote from one OFSTED report[19] about a school's use of our surveys:

The college makes excellent use of data such as that from the ... survey. The outcomes of the survey have been carefully analysed and have had a positive impact on teaching, the PSHE curriculum and the ways in which the pupils are supported and guided.

The information collected through our approach has its main purpose in curriculum planning. For example, we have recently given all secondary schools in Cambridgeshire a comprehensive set of pupil perception data about the school's policies and practices about bullying, and also shown schools what their pupils say about their actual experiences of bullying and other aggressive behaviours.

These questions were discussed and adopted locally in consultation with key stakeholders.

Q69. Does your school...?

Year 8


Don’t know

Yes, but not helpful

Yes, quite or very helpful


...Have clear rules about bullying?





...Have pupils you can talk to about bullying?





...Have adults you can talk to about bullying?





...Listen to pupils’ views about bullying?





...Always do something if bullying happens?





...Have lessons about avoiding / dealing with bullying?





...Encourage reporting when other people are bullied?





...Have an anti-bullying policy?





...Share the policy with pupils?





...Take pupils’ views about policy seriously?










An aggregate local data set also has great value in benchmarking and showing local trends[20]. The Local Authority in Cambridgeshire has taken each school's information over the last 10 years, and given them a spreadsheet showing the school's trends, together with trends in Cambridgeshire and in the SHEU data sets, for questions about bullying and other topics in PSHE education (illustrated).[21]

Spreadsheet figures for a school…

…and charts at the click of a mouse

So a school has an opportunity to review its bullying policy in the light of what pupils say about it, their own pupils' experience of bullying, what is typical for pupils in the Local Authority, what is typical for England, and how these different measures have been changing over time. [Comparisons with England as a whole are possible for questions that have not been locally customised.] Such evidence can call attention to issues that the school may have been complacent about; equally it can calm down unjustified anxiety raised by an unusual incident. This evidence doesn't tell the school what to do, of course, but it does tell them what to talk about.

Recently, we had a school come back to us and ask for an analysis of the different lifestyles of their smokers and non-smokers, an analysis they wanted to share with pupils. This is a school community very much engaged in researching itself, and we are keen to see what impact this will have on smoking levels among pupils.

We have two cautions:

  1. Internet technology and free services like SurveyMonkey have made the process of running a local survey seem easy. It is not. It is extremely easy to create misleading questions and to be misled by people's answers from a skewed sample. It is not necessary to buy in a service such as the one we offer, but schools and other organisations may not be best advised to assume that they can go ahead with a survey without training or advice in questionnaire composition.
  2. We know that the last Government consulted about making the gathering of evidence about wellbeing indicators a regular part of schools' practice, so that the findings might be collated and made public. We believe making such figures public – outside the community being consulted – is often counter-productive, as 'gaming' the system becomes strongly favoured and, in any event, the figures lack a context. But inside a community, nothing is more potent.


How do you think the statutory guidance on sex and relationships education could be simplified, especially in relation to:

6 a) Strengthening the priority given to teaching about relationships?

6 b) The importance of positive parenting?

6 c) Teaching young people about sexual consent?

The guidance is statutory but adopting it is not. All the available evidence suggests that SRE is in practice rather patchy. Some schools seem to do the bare minimum required by law, and this is restricted to biomedical information. We have reviewed some of our own results below showing that even as regards these compulsory elements of the science curriculum, vagueness abounds. And while SRE has its special difficulties, we do not expect any other area of PSHE education to fare any better in the absence of a stronger steer from the centre.

Are you sure it needs to be simplified? The guidance forms a long document but it is not complicated; the themes are plain and the approaches recommended are practical. The approaches recommended in the guidance are of course not specific to SRE but can and should be applied more widely to other topics in PSHE education, and indeed there is overlap between the documents for SRE and PSHE education. If the statutory guidance on sex and relationships became part of guidance on PSHE education, and the PSHE education programme itself was a statutory requirement, then we believe much clarity could be achieved.

Otherwise, the three aspects identified in the question can readily be brought to the fore in an amended document. The evidence that all three are important is abundant.

As noted above, we do not believe that parents/carers or schools have the right to deny a pupil their entitlement to good PSHE education, including education about sex and relationships, any more than they have a right to deny a child appropriate exposure to arithmetic.

The document needs updating. We remarked above the rather dissonant note that arises from the persistent mention of religious belief without mentioning non-religious belief. A much more disagreeable note is struck by the use of the sentence 'There should be no direct promotion of sexual orientation.' We are not aware that this is even possible, let alone such a temptation to teachers that it needs to be forbidden. However, for fear of being caught out by this instruction, schools may fail to provide appropriate information and support for those pupils who do not identify as uncomplicated heterosexuals. In this way, the sentence may be doing the same sort of mischief as did Section 28, and should be removed for the same reasons.


Q7) Have you got any examples of case studies that show particular best practice in teaching PSHE education and achieving the outcomes we want for PSHE education?
Your answer should be evidence based and provide details of real-life case studies.

For teaching, we point to the findings of the mapping study commissioned by the old DCSF. It concluded that PSHE education is at its best when it is coherent, progressive and integrated, and seen as central to the core work of the school[22]. Not only will the observed quality of the education be better, but it is also possible to associate better outcomes with this approach [23][24].

We are also investigating, in partnership with the PSHE Association, whether we can associate better outcomes among pupils with higher grades given to PSHE education by inspectors (unpublished).

As regards planning what is to be taught and how, we have our own approach as outlined in our response to Question 5.[25]



Q8) How can PSHE education be improved using levers proposed in the Schools White Paper, such as Teaching Schools, or through alternative methods of improving quality, such as the use of experienced external agencies (public, private and voluntary) to support schools?

Levers are rigid devices for multiplying force. However, if you apply force to an object unable to move, at best you create nothing but tension and at worst a breakdown of some sort. We have seen that even where a topic, such as sexually transmitted infections, is part of the compulsory science curriculum and failure to teach it is therefore illegal (surely by any measure a powerful lever), not all schools achieve what they should.

The principal barriers to effective PSHE education provision in school are limited time and resources and the availability of confident, trained staff [26][27].

The principal enablers of effective PSHE education provision will, therefore, not be revised documents, but:

  1. more time and resources available to schools for PSHE education, which can be achieved by reducing the requirements elsewhere; and
  2. more available training, certification and mentorship for teachers of PSHE education.

We recognise that local authorities are not as well placed now to provide support and challenge to schools as they were, and that many schools now fall outside the control of LAs. The cessation of the National Healthy Schools Programme has resulted in the disruption and dispersal of a considerable body of expertise and thriving networks of practitioners, and a very effective way of engaging schools about PSHE education. Nonetheless, we believe LAs remain the single largest repository of experience and ideas for PSHE education, and are still the organisations best placed to support schools (including academies) who wish to improve their outcomes in this area.

We would also like to commend the work of the subject association for PSHE education, the PSHE Association. In no other area of the curriculum is so much work undertaken by staff without a certified subject specialism, and the PSHE Association has been a welcome and vigorous new body to promote the highest standards and best practices in PSHE education.

We have also welcomed over the years the contributions of the National Health Education Group (NHEG), the Sex Education Forum and the Drug Education Forum, whose concerns overlap a great deal with PSHE education, and of the National PSE Association for Advisors, Inspectors & Consultants (who maintain their old initialism of NSCoPSE).

It must be tempting for busy and often untrained staff to get in an agency to help deliver part of the PSHE education programme, particularly its most difficult and controversial areas. However, we are aware of some external agencies whose expertise seems to us to lie in the spreading of misinformation and/or recommending approaches that are unhelpful at best. Schools need support in finding their way through the hazards of using external agencies.


Q9) Have you got any examples of good practice in assessing and tracking pupils' progress in PSHE education?

Your answer should be evidence based and provide details of real-life case studies.

We are aware of many useful case studies collected and reported by OFSTED and by the PSHE Association. Moreover, the tabulation of research into cost-effective interventions by Prevention Action (http://www. is bracing and essential reading.

We expect this question has in mind assessment and progress at the level of individual pupils, for which level descriptors are suitable, rather than school year groups.

Our surveys are usually anonymous and so not able to give individual analysis. Furthermore, we are cautious about describing the results from our work as a way of describing outcomes. There are many influences on young people's perceptions and behaviours, in a way that is less relevant for progress in mathematics, and it would be wrong to attribute success or failure to a PSHE education programme only on the basis of responses to our surveys.

Having said all that, we believe there is great value in a school looking, for example, at a time series of pupil perception or outcome information relevant to pupils' progress, as shown:

  • The pupils in Year 8 are surveyed two years on in Year 10
  • There is a progression of improvement among Year 10 pupils
  • It will be interesting to see how the confident Year 8s from 2010 turn out in 2012.

Percentages of pupils in one school who say they are comfortable meeting new people their own age, by year group, 2004-2010


We are working with a small number of schools at the moment to see what contribution an individually identified survey can make to the assessment of pupil progress (unpublished).


Q10) How might schools define and account for PSHE education's outcomes to pupils, parents and local people?

Our comments on the last question apply to this one too.

We are often dismayed by the negative conclusions drawn about young people by national newspapers from results that we publish[28] . Local journalists can face pressure to arrive at similar negative conclusions, and we are aware of several cases where an alarmist story about a survey has appeared, and a school has become anxious that the story might damage, at least in the short term, its relationship with the community it serves. We are committed to the idea of sharing information to promote constructive debate, but not everybody taking part in such debates can be trusted to be constructive.


Q11) Please use this space to provide us with your views and any other comments about PSHE.

We have described under Question 5 our approach to consultation. This is not the only utility of the data sets we collect through our work. The aggregate nationwide data set can be shown to be fairly typical of the country as a whole[29], showing both prevalence[30][31] and trends[32], sometimes showing important changes in advance of official surveys [33][34]. The data set can also be used to investigate research questions[35] and to some extent shows the impact of PSHE education.[36]

So, looking just at drug education for a moment, we can show:

  • dramatic increases in young people's awareness of the dangers of most illegal drugs[37], a likely success story for drug education lessons,
  • a definite pause in the rise of drug experimentation by pupils[38], and
  • a clear positive correlation between individual young people's description of their school-based drug education as being useful, and their abstinence from drugs[39], as seen in the chart. We have repeated this finding many times.

Percentages ever used drugs in Y10 students, by rating of school drug lessons, 2002


A similar pattern of findings can also be shown for smoking (published online[40]) and for the use of alcohol (unpublished). Trends in alcohol use are not straightforward; we see an increase both in young people who are abstainers and in those who drink beyond any sensible guidelines.

The evidence we have about sex education does not extend as far as an impact on behaviour (although that has been investigated by others, with many studies showing positive outcomes can be achieved through school sex education[41]). We do have a lot of information about young people's understanding of some of the biomedical aspects of sex, particularly sexually transmitted infections and contraception, which is found to be patchy at best[42] even if it is generally moving in the right direction[43].

It is important to note that many of these pupils, even in Year 10, will not have received all the planned PSHE education lessons relevant to sex and relationships at the time of the survey. It is quite possible that all of the lack of awareness and confusion about details that we see can be repaired by the time pupils complete their period of compulsory schooling, up to a year later[44] . Nonetheless, it is likely that many of these Year 10 pupils will have received quite a lot of what is to be covered in the PSHE education programme in their schools relevant to the topics in the questionnaire. For example, the non-statutory Programme of Study for KS3 (Years 7-9) gives as suggested content sexual activity, human reproduction, contraception, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections and HIV. Similarly, the sample scheme of work for SRE given by the Sex Education Forum suggests that sexually transmitted infections and contraception be covered as part of the provision for Year 9 pupils ( secondary). It's not clear what schools actually do, but our work for AVERT from 2000[45] showed that 82% of schools in the survey did indeed work on STIs with their Year 9 pupils and 67% did some work on contraception in the same year group. So, not all confusion about contraception or infection is excusable on this reasoning.

We also have very clear signals that young people's main source of sex information has been undergone a profound shift from the home and towards school lessons, as reported by OFSTED in a document which drew heavily on our findings. The charts can be extended beyond 2005 with more recent data.

The percentages of pupils stating that their main source of sex information is from parents, 1983–2005

The percentages of pupils stating that their main source of sex information is from teachers or lessons, 1983–2005

KEY: Year 8 = open, Year 10 = Shaded; Males = [ ] Females = O

These findings suggest that schools are playing an increasingly important role in the provision of information about sex for young people, even while many studies show that many young people wanted much more from their school experience [47][48][49].


As regards safety, we have described above some of the detailed information we have about bullying. We also have research showing the strong connections between bullying and measures like self-esteem and control[50], and the increased likelihood of bullying based on sexual orientation experienced by young people who do not identify as heterosexual[51], perhaps especially for those in religious school environments.[52]

We also have some impact evidence about Internet safety: the overwhelming majority of young people say they have unsupervised access to the Internet but also that they have been told how to stay safe online, even if they do not always follow this advice.[53]


These illustrations could be repeated for other topics in PSHE education, showing not just that they are relevant, but they are vital to pupils' flourishing.


As mentioned above, we are currently working with the PSHE Association to see if we can show school-level effects on pupil behaviour, according to OFSTED's inspection judgements about a school's PSHE education. We hope to bring the outcome of this study to public notice in due course.


Lastly, we must say that our responses to these questions are haunted by uncertainty about the outcomes of the National Curriculum review. We note that a strong message from best practice in PSHE education is that it should not be considered a separate, optional part of a school's work, but something fundamental, central and integrated[54]. Nonetheless, it has been marked off as just such a separate entity to the National Curriculum as part of the Government's programme of reviews. This could be sending an unwelcome message about the continued disconnected character of PSHE education (afterthought, bolt-on, low-status...), a message we hope might be repudiated as part of the findings of this review.


^ to return to text

^ 1 Balding AD & Regis D (2011). Young People into 2011. Exeter: SHEU. ISBN 9871 902445 42 6.
^ 2 Balding JW (1987). Young People in 1986. Exeter: SHEU, University of Exeter.
^ 3 Balding AD & Regis D (2011). Young People into 2011. Ibid.
^ 4 MacDonald A (2009). Independent Review of the proposal to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education statutory. London: DCSF. ISBN: 978-1-84775-429-5
^ 5 Regis D (2011). 'The Religion Question.' SHEUNews, May 2011, p.4. /sites/
^ 6 Balding JW (1977). The Just a Minute Questionnaire. Exeter: SHEU, University of Exeter.
^ 7 Balding JW (1983). 'The HEC Primary/Middle School Topics Project: Health topics and the parents.' Education and Health, 1(5),83-86. /x/EH/eh15jb.pdf
^ 8 Williams T (1986). 'The HEC Primary Project national survey.' Education and Health, 4(1),9-11. /x/EH/eh41tw.pdf
^ 9 Balding JW, Code T and Redman K (1989). Health Education Priorities for the Primary School Curriculum. Exeter: SHEU, University of Exeter. ISBN 0 85068 101 4.
^ 10 Regis, D (1996). 'The Voice of Children in Health Education: use of the Just a Tick method to consult children over curriculum content.' In John, M (Ed.): Children in our charge: the child's right to resources. London: Jessica Kingsley. ISBN 1 85302 369 8
^ 11 Emmerson L (2011). Parents and SRE. London: SEF/NCB.
^ 12 Millar F & Wood G (2011). A new conversation with parents: how can schools inform and listen in a digital age? London: Family Lives.
^ 13 Kobus K (2003). 'Peers and adolescent smoking.' Addiction, 98, 37-55. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.98.s1.4.x
^ 14 Regis D (2009). 'Social Norms and health promotion.' Education and Health, 27(3),71-72. /x/EH/eh273dr.pdf
^ 15 Williams R (2011). The Guernsey Parents' and Carers' Survey 2011. Exeter: States of Guernsey Education Department. ISBN 978 1 902445 42 3
^ 16 Balding JW (1983). 'Developing the Health-Related Behaviour Questionnaire.' Education and Health, 1(1),9-13. /x/EH/eh11jb.pdf
^ 17 Balding JW & Shelley CA (1993). 'A health-related peep at 7,852 very young people.' Education and Health, 11(3),43-47. /x/EH/eh113jb.pdf
^ 18 Thompson,L 2001. 'Joining the Healthy School Scheme: A NHSS pilot school reflects on how the HRBQ provided a focus.' Education and Health, 19(1),7-8. /x/EH/eh191lt.pdf
^ 19 OFSTED Subject inspection programme, PSHE: St.Luke's Science and Sport College, Exeter /fts
^ 20 Foot G (1991). 'How typical is your school?' Education and Health, 9(3),36-39. /x/EH/eh291jp.pdf
^ 21 Pratt J (2011). 'Cambridgeshire schools are looking to the future.' Education and Health, 29(1),3-5. /x/EH/eh291jp.pdf
^ 22 Formby et al. (2011). Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education: A mapping study of the prevalent models of delivery and their effectiveness. London: DCSF.
^ 23 Eiser JR et al. (1988). 'Social education is good for health.' Educational Research 30(1), 20-25. DOI: 10.1080/0013188880300103
^ 24 Regis D, Bish D and Balding J (1994). 'The place of alcohol education: reflection and research after Eiser et al. (1988).' Educational Research. 36(2), 149-156.
^ 25 Thompson,L 2001. 'Joining the Healthy School Scheme: A NHSS pilot school reflects on how the HRBQ provided a focus.' Education and Health, 19(1),7-8. /x/EH/eh191lt.pdf
^ 26 Lawrence J, Kanabus A & Regis D (2000). A Survey of Sex Education Provision in Secondary Schools. Horsham: AVERT.
^ 27 Formby et al. (2011). Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education: A mapping study of the prevalent models of delivery and their effectiveness. London: DCSF.
^ 28 Lepkowska D & O'Grady S (2000). 'Of course they worry, leading lazy lives on unhealthy food mixed with drink and drugs.' Sunday Express October 15th, pp.20-21.
^ 29 Balding JW (2006). Young People into 2006. Exeter: SHEU.
^ 30 Balding JW (1984). 'Mayfly - data from 1,237 14 year olds.' Education and Health, 2(5),104-109. /x/EH/eh25mayfly.pdf
^ 31 Balding AD (2011). 'Young People and their Health-Related Behaviour: responses from over 80,000 young people in 2010.' Education & Health, 29(3), 58-60.
^ 32 Balding JW (2008). Trends - Smoking. Attitudes to cigarettes 1983-2007. Exeter: SHEU. [Other volumes include Emotional Health and Wellbeing (including Bullying), Food, Alcohol, Drugs, Money, Leisure, Sex and Relationships and Physical Activity.]
^ 33 Balding JW (1988). 'Teenage smoking: the levels are falling at last!' Education and Health, 6(3),68-70. /x/EH/eh63jb.pdf
^ 34 Balding JW & Regis D (1996). 'More alcohol down fewer throats?' Education and Health, 13(4),61-63. /x/EH/eh134jb2.pdf
^ 35 Regis D (2010). 'Street-wise? Substance use in town and country as reported by young people.' Education and Health, 28(1),7-9. /x/EH/eh281dr.pdf
^ 36 Regis D (2005). 'Good News about Drug Education.' Education and Health, 23(2),24. /x/EH/eh232dr.pdf
^ 37 Balding JW (2004). Trends - Illegal Drugs. Attitudes to and experience of illegal drugs 1987-2003. Exeter: SHEU.
^ 38 Balding J (2004). Ibid.
^ 39 Regis D (2003). 'Drug education linked to drug use.' Education and Health, 21(3), 56. /x/EH/eh213dr.pdf
^ 40 /content/blog/young-people-smoking-and-influence-lessons Accessed 14:48 11th Nov 2011.
^ 41 Emmerson L (2010). Does SRE work? London: NCB/SEF.
^ 42 Balding AD & Regis D (2011). Young People into 2011. Exeter: SHEU. p.110-112.
^ 43 Balding AD & Regis D (2007). Trends: Young People, Sex and Relationships. Exeter: SHEU.
^ 44 A similar consideration may apply to studies apparently exposing weaknesses in teachers' understanding; are these weaknesses also present at the time a teacher proposes to conduct a lesson on that topic? Cf. Westwood J & Mullan B (2007). 'Knowledge and attitudes of secondary school teachers regarding sexual health education in England', Sex Education, 7(2), 143-159.
^ 45 Lawrence J, Kanabus A & Regis D (2000). A Survey of Sex Education Provision in Secondary Schools. Horsham: AVERT.
^ 46 OFSTED (2007). Time for Change? Personal, social and health education. London: OFSTED.
^ 47 UK Young People's Parliament (2008). Are you getting it? London: UKYP.
^ 48 Sex Education Forum (2008). Key findings: Young people's survey on sex and relationships education. London: NCB/SEF.
^ 49 Sex Education Forum (2011). Young people's experiences of HIV and AIDS education. London: NCB/SEF.
^ 50 Balding J et al.(1997) Bully Off. Exeter: SHEU.
^ 51 Regis D (2009). 'Experiences of young people with different sexual or gender identity.' Education and Health, 27(4), 91-95. /x/EH/eh274dr.pdf
^ 52 Hunt,R & Regis,D (2006). 'A survey of homophobic bullying in schools.' Education and Health 24(2),30. /x/EH/eh242rh.pdf
^ 53 Balding AD & Regis D (2011). Young People into 2011. Exeter: SHEU. p.32.
^ 54 Formby et al. (2011). Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education: A mapping study of the prevalent models of delivery and their effectiveness. London: DCSF.


Comments about SHEU

Any comments on specific survey questions that may have caused difficulty?
Pupils at our primary school found the questionnaire very easy to understand and most of them completed the questions in less than 45min.


"We were talking about (the SHEU survey) data at our recent NSCoPSE Conference, for PSHE advisers and consultants. It would be really helpful if some of this powerful data and the trends could be shared in the consultation around the PSHE Review. Colleagues shared their very positive experiences of (the SHEU survey). It provides excellent evidence of behaviour change for children and young people and of the impact of PSHE and wider interventions."

Personal and Social Development Consultant
At the time, the results were very useful and the feedback report very useful and insightful. Significant changes will occur in our schools health and wellbeing provision next year and conducting another survey will certainly help me to ensure I am planning effectively for the needs of our pupils.
Head of Health and Wellbeing

"I really appreciate the professional service which SHEU offers.  We have had a great experience working with Angela on the school surveys." 

Health Improvement Specialist

"I would like to say how much we appreciated the work you and your team have put in to this project, a big thank you for the excellent reports that you have completed on our behalf." Assistant Director of Public Health

Assistant Director of Public Health

"Many thanks for a major contribution to the health of children in the UK and elsewhere over many years and putting in place the continuation of the Unit." Tribute from a Director of Public Health to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

Director of Public Health

"The survey reports have been used to inform commissioning at specific commissioning groups. They are also being used within our Extended Schools Clusters and to inform The Annual Public Health and the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment." Programme Manager - Young People

"We did this last year with Year 8 and 10 and was incredibly useful. It is WELL worth doing and so useful to inform PSHE planning. The safeguarding audit team were delighted that we had done it. The findings are so so interesting.
"The findings are really comprehensive and range from what percentage of year 8 have breakfast in the morning to how many have tried this particular drug, to identity, health and sleep patterns, mental health, citizenship issues....
"It's essential for the PSHE and pastoral curriculum."

PSHCEE coordinator

"The service you provide is of national significance." Health Development Agency

Health Development Agency

"Many thanks for all of the fantastic information that you have sent to me over the years, it has really helped me to plan relevant courses for my students to follow and to help me to focus on the needs of the students I teach."

PSHE teacher

"We would like to take part in the next ECM survey. We have found the data produced invaluable for supporting evidence in our SEF etc."

School Vice Principal
We were all very impressed with the spreadsheet and can see that an incredible amount of work has gone into creating this!
Health Improvement Specialist
I would just like to say thank you very much to Angela, yourself and all of the SHEU team for making the [survey] so successful. The survey has been well received and we are using data in new ways to help support work on local Public Health priorities.
Senior Public Health Specialist

"Thank you from my staff to you and all your staff. The speed of 'turn-around' of the questionnaires is outstanding in anyone's terms." Headteacher


"We use the data to inform whole school practice: Pastoral programmes for target groups of pupils; Items for discussion with School Council; Information to help us achieve the Healthy School gold standard; To develop and dicuss with pupils our Anti-Bullying Policy; Targeted whole class sessions with the Police Community Support Officers; To share pupil perceptions of all aspects of their school life with parents, staff and governers." 

Learning Mentor

"We're very happy to commission another survey from you. Our colleagues in School Improvement are dead keen to work with us on this. During our last LA Inspection, we were flagged from our Tellus data as having a bullying problem. We could demonstrate with our SHEU data - which had a much better sample size and coverage of the authority - that we did not have the problem they suggested. The Inspectors went away happy and we are definitely surveying again with SHEU."

Local Authority Senior Adviser

"The Schools Health Education Unit has been a unique inspiration to all of us. For me, as I have worked in the many different areas of the NHS, the SHEU, its principles and your determination have always been a cornerstone in what a health promoting service should be about."
PCT Performance Manager paying tribute to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

PCT Performance Manager
Good morning You are an absolute life-saver!
PSHE Teacher

"Your work in developing the Health Related Behaviour Survey was ground breaking and has continued to evolve." Tribute from a Director of Public Health to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

"The Unit produces an invaluable body of knowledge... providing exceptional information across time and throughout the country." Kelloggs


"You have made a truly significant contribution to health education and health promotion of young people in, not only England, but all over the United Kingdom and beyond." Colleague from NHS Scotland paying tribute to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

NHS Scotland
I'm emailing to request a 2020 young people health report (...) your report is a wonderful resource.
Research Assistant

Thank you for following up with schools the comments that caused concern. It is very sad to hear that some of our children have these thoughts and feelings and I am so grateful that you were able to make the schools aware of this so that they can attempt to offer some support.

This is another reason why I am so pleased that we have been able to work with you to offer this survey.

Health and Wellbeing Adviser
"They really enjoyed the animations and found the questionnaire fun to fill out"
School Nurse

"Please send an additional copy of our report - it is the most requested and borrowed item in the whole library." Health Promotion Unit

Health Promotion Unit

"The Health Related Behaviour Survey is an incredibly useful resource for (us) as it provides schools, with invaluable data which can inform curriculum content, methods of lesson delivery and empower schools to better meet the needs of their pupils."

Health Education Advisor

"Thank you very much, David, for another excellent survey.  We look forward to receiving our reports."

Healthy Schools Co-ordinator
My school took part in the Health Survey last year and found it incredibly beneficial. It has been an invaluable tool for planning our PSHE/well being provision and actioning our school development plan.
Primary School Wellbeing Lead
I just wanted to write and tell you how much I enjoyed your talk at last week's conference.
Chief Executive, substance use charity

"We never make a move without looking at these excellent reports." Public Health Consultant

Public Health Consultant
...our analyst here in Public Health- is beside himself with excitement about all the juicy data pouring in...he can't wait to get his hands on it!!!! He is happier than I have seen him for years.
Public Health Principal

"SHEU data proved the best source of the kind of information we were looking for (...) to provide research support to the National Healthy Schools Programme." 

Department of Health

"We are planning next year's programmes around this information." Health Education Adviser

Health Education Adviser
"This is amazing! Thank you." (school report)

"We have never consulted our young people like this before. The survey makes a great contribution to our 'best value' planning." Sports Development Officer

Sports Development Officer

Any comments on specific survey questions that may have caused difficulty?
All questions are clearly worded and easy to answer

Class teacher
Many thanks to you and your team for turning this around so quickly. We really appreciate it, and also your extra support with the administration this time.
PSHE Lead Advisor

"As a result of the survey we reviewed and amended PSHE schemes of work, we are currently working on a "Green Travel Plan", a morning breakfast club was established and we further developed 6th Form mentoring."

Health Education Coordinator
...Many thanks for all your work with this year’s survey. It’s already proving to be invaluable especially against the severe cuts in services that are looming.
Health Promotion Manager

"I very much value the contribution the Health Related Behaviour Survey has made to the public health agenda and feel confident it will continue to do so." Tribute from a Director of Public Health to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

Director of Public Health

"This week I have been working on a major strategy for service design -- it is easy to get solely focussed on hospitals, performance targets, and work force planning -- all very important; but at the same the needs of young people and how we need to work across agencies to address the health needs of today and tomorrow must be recognised. SHEU is founded to do just this."

PCT Performance Manager
I think the HRBQ is an absolutely wonderful, informative tool and I am keen to really encourage schools/other relevant partners (as appropriate) to utilise this invaluable data to encourage voice of the child, and subsequently contribute to shaping priorities and services.
Senior Health Improvement Practitioner (Children and Young People)

 “The (SHEU survey) helped us to prioritise where we needed to be in terms of PSHE education. We delivered assemblies based on the evidence as well as curriculum development, and dealt with whole school issues – particularly in regard to pastoral care. The answers received to the question on the survey “Who are you most likely to approach if you needed help” worried staff as “teacher” was not a popular answer. Subsequently the staff asked themselves why this had happened and what needed to be done to address the issue. There was more emphasis on wider aspects of PSHE education delivery, which needed more attention.

To summarise, the (SHEU survey) allows the PSHE department to assess the impact of teaching and learning and modify future lessons accordingly. It allows our school to look at whole school issues such as the extent to which the pastoral care system is meeting the needs of our pupils. It helps us to do need analysis of our pupils. It helps to provide important evidence for SEF / the extent to which we are meeting wellbeing indicators / National Healthy School standards.”  

Secondary School Head

“(The SHEU survey) was very, very useful. It gave us reassurance we weren’t missing a trick. For example not many pupils in the sample year groups were taking illegal drugs, which re-enforced our opinions. But the survey also raised issues and flagged some things up. We discovered that some of our girls weren’t eating enough – the percentage of girls in our school not eating lunch the day before the survey was higher than the county average. There were other concerns too, specifically around cigarettes, alcohol and attendance.
The school used this data and took a number of actions to address it. More female peer mentors were put in place and the school asked NEXUS (the Extended Schools service) for help, so they developed a programme for girls which addressed their eating patterns, healthy eating, sex education and self-esteem issues.
We ran an anti-bullying group for Year 9 as a preventative measure, based upon data provided by our current Year 10 students.
The travel data revealed that a high number of pupils took the car to school so we involved the BIKE-IT scheme who ran assemblies, brought in their bikes (including one with a pedal-powered smoothie maker!), and raised awareness of health and green issues.
The information about how happy the students were with their lives raised some concerns as far fewer girls were as happy as the boys, so work was done around developing aspirations, role-models and self-esteem."        

Deputy Head, Secondary School

"You and the team have the evidence to show how young people's behaviour has or hasn't changed over time." 
Tribute from a Health Education Co-ordinator to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

Health Education Co-ordinator

"I would like to say that this survey was very useful and made me realise things about PE and health that I had never realised before......Food at school is groovy, especially if your school does Jamie Olivers School Dinners. Viva apples and thanks for the survey." Female pupil, 13 yrs old

Female pupil, 13yrs
I've just spent a really interesting half an hour reading through our ...survey (report). Always food for thought and a good way to look at how we can improve.

"The data from last time were spot-on and we have done lots of work with it. We are very keen to repeat the survey." Headteacher


(Our) Senior team were very enthused with the rich source of data provided within the reports (and thought that the analyses including within the appendices section of the main reports were really interesting).

Health Improvement Specialist (Children, Schools and Families)

"Over the last twenty years you have achieved much. The surveys and subsequent reports have painted the clearest picture we have of what young people are doing and what they think." Tribute from OFSTED to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005


"I have never looked at myself in this way before." Pupil


"Every school involved in the National Healthy School programme should start with an HRBQ survey." Health Education Co-ordinator

Health Education Co-ordinator

"The Schools Health Education Unit has gained a reputation as one of the most reliable sources of information about young people's health." BBC


"I really think that the HRBQ is a wonderful piece of work in terms of getting useful information for so many different organisations in one go." Healthy Children's Research and Statistics Officer

Research and Statistics Officer

"As a Deputy Head in a large secondary school I was involved in taking part in a city wide health and wellbeing survey over a period of six years. Completing the survey every two years grew in importance year on year, with the final cycle having a major impact on our SDP, PHSE curriculum, Ofsted outcomes and governor understanding.
Over the six year period we moved from a small sample in two tutor groups filling in a paper survey to two year groups completing an online survey. The reports produced give graphical analysis of a wide range of issues. As a result of the survey we increased the number of PSHE workshop days for students to address issues such as smoking, drug and alcohol awareness, anti-bullying workshops. The surveys helped Governors make a positive informed decision to allow Brook Advisory Clinic nurses on site to support students.
As a result of taking part and using the evidence provided we were able to offer more support for students which had a direct impact on improved attendance and outcomes."

Deputy Head Secondary School

"The system works and I find quite a lot of it useful in my work. I've also recommended it to others."

Teenage Pregnancy Manager

"On behalf of all the health promoters in Scotland I would like to say a big thank to you and your colleagues for your excellent work over the years. This includes not only your survey work but your role as a visiting examiner in Scotland and adviser on course development."
Tribute from a Health Commissioner to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

Health Commissioner

"Many thanks to SHEU for your excellent professional support over the years."

PSHE teacher

Any comments on specific survey questions that may have caused difficulty? No problems. My children were fully briefed before the survey and they understood that they could miss questions if they did not want to answer them. We did not have any children with any concerns regarding the survey at all.

Any comments on the use of the web site? No it was easy to use.

Any general comments on the exercise? The children really enjoyed completing the survey, It has lead to many positive discussions about our health and how we all have slightly different experiences and home lives.

Class teacher

"...the most comprehensive health education survey."

Daily Telegraph
Please could our College be part of the SHEU survey this academic year? We did it in 2016 and 2017 and found it incredibly informative and it helped us shape our PSHE provision.
Assistant Principal

"The children found the survey very interesting and enjoyed doing it." Class Teacher

Class teacher
I would be extremely interested to see the results as I know how useful this information has been to the other schools in the borough

"Within the curriculum, we are part of the Healthy Schools programme - and the local, Director of Public Health Award. We cover many facets of health from emotional intelligence to safety education and our very strong, Anti-Bullying and Child Protection programmes. You can imagine our delight when the Local Authority and our school nurse made the following comments after we took part in the regional Schools Health Education Unit Survey: " Head Teacher.
“This was an amazing set of outcomes and really good evidence that (your school) is doing a wonderful job in prioritizing the health and well-being of its pupils … Well done to staff, governors and parents for all your work on this through the Director of Public Health award and other strategies. It is very clear that pupils feel happy, safe and involved at the school and your caring ethos shines through this data.”
Healthy Schools Coorduinator.


Headteacher & Healthy Schools Coordinator

"Just to say a huge thank you for all your efforts in helping us with the Health survey amongst pupils. It has provided us with significant data which will be used across the school to help us improve. It helped us to obtain a healthy schools standard as well. I hope we can make this an annual feature as we can track the changing health of our pupils." Headteacher


"The data for (us) are very useful ... This is especially important when evaluating the impact of interventions regarding alcohol or other areas, as the survey data are likely to provide an earlier indication than routine data sources."

Specialist Registrar in Public Health

"Our use of the Health-Related Behaviour Questionnaire was commended as part of our accreditation for the National Healthy Schools Scheme." Headteacher

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your work regarding writing and compiling the sex education survey. The survey was well executed and the schools have found their individual reports very helpful. The results of the survey have enabled the Local Campaign Group to justify the need for young men's campaigns and given us invaluable insight as to the thoughts and experiences of this target group."

Teenage Pregnancy Strategy Manager

"This is an excellent way of keeping up to date belt and braces style."

School Drugs Advisor

"It's good to talk with you again - we used so much of those data and did so much with it in schools - we really got the place buzzing!"

Consultant in Public Health

"You have often stood alone against the media who were often looking for the sensational headline. I have noticed an important change: the media now look out for and report very fairly and fully on the reports from the team." 
Tributes from a Health Education Advisor to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

Health Education Advisor

"The Unit has a unique historical and contemporary archive of young people." Prof. Ted Wragg 1938-2005

Prof Ted Wragg, 1938-2005

"Brilliant - thank you Angela. As always you and your team are so proficient at getting our requests dealt with so promptly - it is a real pleasure to work with such a great organisation."

Health Improvement Adviser

"The Schools Health Education Unit is the jewel in the crown of the Health Education Authority." Major General Sir John Acland 1928 - 2006

Major General Sir John Acland
"The data from the 2018/19 survey is still in heavy use here, the physical activity related findings were pivotal in changing the relevant strategy recently to target less active groups like girls towards the end of secondary school, and I’ve three fairly hefty jobs on the to-do list that will use the data with other sources to identify target schools for mental health and physical activity projects, and another looking at community safety. I call it the gift that keeps giving and that certainly seems to be the case!"
Senior Public Health Specialist (Intelligence)

"...the only question to cause a problem was 'has everyone got a pen?" Supervisor's notes following a school survey

Supervisor's Notes

"One year (following the SHEU survey) responses from our Year 4 cohort caused us concern, so we put in place a number of team building, motivational projects. We then assessed their effectiveness by requesting the SHEU questionnaires for these pupils as Year 5's."

Learning Mentor

"I have valued greatly the work I have done with the team in Exeter, it has been a highlight of my years here." Health Promotion Specialist

Health Promotion Specialist
"The credit goes to you for the fabulous information the survey yields!"
Assistant Director Schools and SEN

"Over the last twenty years you have achieved much. The surveys and subsequent reports have painted the clearest picture we have of what young people are doing and what they think." OFSTED 1998


"Thanks for presenting the survey to local schools this morning, I just wanted to thank you for such interesting and thought-provoking information.  
I’m really glad we were able to take part - the information (particularly headline data and differences) will support us to have some really interesting questions with the Year group as a whole about the sense they’re making of this; what they think it might mean in terms of changes they might make, and what they need to support them in this."

Deputy Headteacher

"The Unit is to be congratulated in preparing ... material of the highest standard and worthy of wide dissemination." National Association for Environmental Education

National Association for Environmental Education

"The (named) Children and Young People's Partnership has benefitted from the results of the SHEU survey locally for many years now, and we should like to continue to do so in future."

Consultant in Public Health Medicine

"You have made a fantastic contribution to children’s health education and promotion. I am personally grateful to you for helping to kickstart my research career." Prof. Neil Armstrong tribute to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

Prof Neil Armstrong