The PSHE Association Quality Mark

By Jan Lever MBE | March 11, 2021

A sad story

Jigsaw PSHE was proud to hold the PSHE Association Quality Mark for the 3-11 Programme, but on applying to renew this and apply for the QM for the Jigsaw 11-16 Programme, we found that the Association’s recent policy change would not allow this. The Association has decided only to offer the Quality Mark to resources that cover specific aspects of PSHE, but not to give this opportunity to whole-school programmes.

A concern expressed to me was that schools buying into whole-school PSHE Programmes were at risk of using these without giving due regard to differentiation in order to meet the needs of their pupils.

In response, I invited the Association to visit Jigsaw Schools to witness that this is simply not true, and that having Jigsaw gives teachers time to tailor the materials to their pupils’ needs, time they may not have if they were to plan their PSHE from scratch, and that Jigsaw encourages schools to do this.

John Dillon, Head of Marketing and Communications at the PSHE Association explained:

“Jigsaw users may question why the programme no longer holds the PSHE Association Quality Mark, and we wanted emphasise that this is part of a broader decision to discontinue quality assurance of whole PSHE education programmes.

The PSHE Association quality assurance process is thorough and lengthy. While we are proud of our rigour, not all providers of whole programmes can afford to undertake it. We believe it would unfairly skew the market for only some providers to be able to afford to gain our quality mark, and as a result, we are no longer accepting whole programmes into the quality assurance process.

However, the Association continues to recognise the value that established whole programmes can offer as a foundation for designing a PSHE curriculum, and we look forward to continuing our support for any schools using Jigsaw to support delivery of high quality PSHE education”

There are many things about this change of policy that are very disappointing to me. I questioned the rationale with the Association’s Board.

Jigsaw is the culmination of my being so committed to providing inclusive, progressive, age-appropriate PSHE for so many years. We know that Jigsaw is genuinely making a positive difference to so many schools, teachers, children and young people (over 2 million children and young people so far), and do not want schools who have chosen Jigsaw to feel their preferred programme is being undervalued.

I am also disappointed as I believe that Jigsaw could be such a great ally of the Association, as opposed to being marginalised in this way.

A Quality Mark from the National Subject Association would reinforce the decision schools choosing Jigsaw have made, and would include our tried and tested Programme in the directory of resources for teachers searching for guidance on high quality materials.

The new policy means Jigsaw will not be amongst those resources the Association lists on its website, perhaps meaning some teachers will not find it in their search for quality resources, even though, we believe, it is amongst the most effective and supportive PSHE Schemes available and can save teachers hours of planning time that they can use for focusing on their delivery and their children’s needs. Teachers trust the PSHE Association’s directory but now this is not representative of the range of quality resources available to schools. What a shame.

This is not about having a badge. Jigsaw is all about improving the learning and life-chances of children and young people. That’s what we are passionate about.

I am just saddened that one of the leading PSHE Programmes, that exemplifies good practice in PSHE (and RSHE) (including the Association’s 10 Principles) and genuinely does its best to support its schools, cannot be recognised and valued in this way when surely this is exactly the good practice that the national subject association should be promoting, in my opinion of course.

We try to be transparent with our Jigsaw schools, hence sharing this story with you all. Now, more than ever, children need great PSHE, so thank you for your commitment to this. I assure you of Jigsaw’s ongoing support.

Very kind regards,

Jan Lever

Creator and CEO

Jigsaw PSHE Ltd



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