It is now a statutory requirement for schools in England to teach Relationships/ Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education — sometimes abbreviated as ‘RSHE’.
PSHE education is the school curriculum subject through which RSHE content is delivered in the vast majority of schools. Teaching RSHE within this context is effective because of the overlap and connections between health, relationships, economic wellbeing and thriving in life and work.
During this pandemic, mental health, physical health and maintaining healthy relationships (including at home and online) are issues of concern. So it has never been more important to prioritise effective PSHE education, and regular curriculum time. This applies both to ensuring safe, effective remote teaching and choice of resources as well as supporting pupils’ well-being and recovery as they return to the classroom.
The pandemic has also created extremely difficult circumstances for schools and challenges in preparing for statutory RSHE. Recognising this, ASCL, Association for Young People's Health (AYPH), NAHT, NEU, Public Health England, the PSHE Association and the Sex Education Forum have worked together to bring you practical advice on three key steps to successfully implementing the statutory changes:
There is still time to prepare fully in the weeks ahead and these steps will support you to do so.
‘RSHE Ready’, a series of podcasts exploring different aspects of RSHE implementation, will also provide you with guidance and tips from voices from across the sector to help you plan for RSHE success.
Focus your preparations for statutory RSHE by carrying out a self-evaluation. If timetabling and staffing are yet to be planned, this needs attention now. Parent consultation and an updated policy on Relationships education/RSE are legislative requirements and need a plan to progress step-by-step. A working group can improve engagement from the school community and lighten the load on the subject lead. Pupil feedback can be gathered rapidly and gives an up-to-date picture of needs that can inform conversations with parents and school policy. As the staffing model is established, ask staff about their training and support needs.
Regular, discrete lesson time that provides a planned, developmental curriculum for all year groups is crucial. Any one-off events such as 'drop down days' should always be used in addition to regular timetabled provision, and not as a substitute for it.
RSHE learning will enhance — and be enhanced by — the rest of PSHE education, and it is vital that pupils do not lose their entitlement to careers education, economic wellbeing and other essential areas.
Quality RSHE provision depends on a dynamic curriculum, differentiated and tailored to meet the changing needs of all pupils, including those with SEND. Selecting or writing individual lesson plans and resources is the final step in the planning process, never the first.
Start with the long-term overview of what each year group will cover in the course of a year. The statutory guidance does not specify content by year group, key stage, or age, so you will need to identify appropriate content for your pupils. Next come the schemes of work for each module or topic, with clear learning objectives and concrete, measurable learning outcomes. Once these are identified, it is time to plan individual lessons or select appropriate lesson plans and resources to meet your learning objectives.
With your schemes of work and lesson plans prepared, it is now time to teach!
Any teaching about relationships, sex and health must be inclusive, factually accurate and in line with safe practice principles. Teachers need the relevant subject knowledge but also the skills to create a safe learning environment, handle questions and discussions on sensitive issues appropriately and assess pupils’ learning and progress. Any external visitors must work within the school’s policies and in line with safe practice.
With an updated policy and curriculum in place it is important to monitor provision to evidence that pupils feel safe, included and are making progress, achieving educational outcomes in RSHE and enjoying lessons. An evaluation cycle needs to be established to gather pupil and staff feedback, with regular review (for example annually). This informs updates to the curriculum and CPD provision. Regular communications ensure parents understand what is being taught in school and can complement the learning at home. Long term success will depend, in part, on stability in the staffing of RSHE/PSHE education to manage teacher workload as well as subject leaders having appropriate status, training and development opportunities.