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


Jenny McWhirter, Nick Boddington & Jenny Barksfield

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    This book is dedicated to all the young people with whom we have worked over the years, and especially to those with whom we have shared our lives: Alison, Andrew, Sammie, Tom, Charlotte, Laura, Conrad, Séamus, Greg and Kieran.

    It is also dedicated to Alastair McWhirter, Karen Boddington and Gerry Czerniawski, with our love and thanks for their unfailing support.

    About the Authors

    Jenny McWhirter is a freelance researcher and writer who became interested in young people’s health and wellbeing when working as a part time youth worker in the 1980s. As a lecturer at Southampton University and then as education adviser for drug education and accident prevention charities she has developed curriculum resources and evaluated the effectiveness of PSHE education in primary and secondary schools. Recently Jenny has turned her interests to effective interventions for families where parental drug and alcohol misuse causes harm to children and young people.

    Nick Boddington started his career as an art and mathematics teacher working in both primary and secondary schools in north London, then joined the Advisory Service where he specialised in the teaching of sensitive issues including SRE, HIV, anti-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 Local Authority before taking up his current position as Subject Adviser with the national PSHE Association. Nick is committed to a model of PSHE education that places young people’s individual and unique understanding of their world and their own enquiry at the centre of learning. He is co-author of a number of government documents, academic texts and teaching resources committed to improving the quality of PSHE education. Nick has spent nearly 30 years championing the importance of placing high-quality PSHE education at the centre of the school curriculum.

    Jenny Barksfield started her working life as a nurse before deciding on a different path and qualifying as a teacher of modern foreign languages. A defining career moment came when she was asked to cover a PSHE education lesson at the end of which a student remarked, ‘You make a much better PSHE teacher than French teacher, Miss’. He was right: Jenny had found her passion and from that moment she dedicated her teaching career to developing high-quality PSHE education in the schools where she worked, including ten years as Head of PSHE education in a large state secondary school, and since 2009 through her roles as Training and Development Lead and now Senior Subject Specialist and Deputy CEO at The PSHE Association.


    Our thanks to: Andrew Brown, Public Health England; Mark Bowles, The Training Effect; Dr Pooky Knightsmith; Anne Clare; Parama Chakravorty; Robert Bickers; Katie Gurney; Adrian King; staff and students of St Martin’s School, Essex; Newent Community School and Sixth Form Centre, Gloucester; Hurworth School, Darlington.

    Also, our thanks to the following organisations: The Association for Young People’s Health; The PSHE Association and The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

    Finally, we would like to thank the editorial staff at SAGE Publications for their advice, guidance and support.

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