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’ wellbeing and recovery when 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, AYPH
, 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:
- Consulting with parents and pupils, and developing policy
- What to teach and how to teach it
- Sustaining success
There is still time to prepare fully in the weeks ahead and these steps will support you to do so.
’, 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-review. 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 inform conversations with parents and school policy. As the staffing model is established, ask staff about their training and support needs.
Pupil consultation tools
Parent consultation tools
Getting your delivery model right
- Have you carried out review and consultation activities with parents, pupils and teachers?
- What are the priority areas of PSHE education, including RSHE, for pupils in your school and their parents?
- Do families feel included, understood and heard?
- Have pupils been asked about how the subject is delivered, not just about topics?
- Has pupil feedback been shared with parents and staff?
- Would parents welcome further support in fulfilling their role at home?
- What processes are in place to record and respond to requests for withdrawal from sex education?
- What are the priorities for staff training?
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.
Have you considered:
Long, medium and short-term planning
- whether you have sufficient time to teach the statutory RSHE content?
- how to cover RSHE within a broader programme of PSHE education, so that other important elements are not lost?
- which lessons or parts of lessons constitute sex education?
- whether to use external visitors or one-off events to support your programme? If so, how you will ensure their input is appropriate and embedded within the taught programme?
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.
Have you considered:
Getting it right in the classroom
- how you will identify the content to teach at each key stage?
- how to build this developmentally through the year groups’ schemes of work?
- who will be responsible for planning individual lessons?
- whether to use published teaching materials and how you will adapt them to meet your pupils’ needs?
- what additional resources you may need and how you will select them?
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.
Have you considered:
- how to ensure that any teachers involved in RSHE teaching have the subject specific knowledge and skills they need to teach and assess confidently and safely?
- how to identify and meet teachers’ training needs?
- how you will support all teachers to create an inclusive and safe learning environment for all pupils, through choice of resources, evaluation and monitoring?
- how to ensure all teachers understand and comply with school policy? Do they feel confident about how to manage any potential disclosures following a lesson?
- how to support pupils with increased vulnerabilities and ensure teaching activities and materials are inclusive and reflect the lived experience of all pupils?
- how you will differentiate teaching approaches and activities to meet the needs of all pupils?
- how you will assess pupils’ starting points and progress?
- whether you will use external agencies to supplement your programme? If so, how you will select and work with them to ensure safe, effective practice in the classroom?
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.
Have you considered:
What success looks like
Ongoing parental and pupil engagement
- evaluation at different points in the year e.g. at the end of a unit of lessons?
- how to ensure opportunities for regular feedback to parents?
- a review of records relating to parental withdrawal from sex education — including numbers and reasons behind withdrawal? Similarly, for pupils opting in to sex education from three terms before their 16th birthday?
- mechanisms for engaging with and reporting to governors or trustees?
- using a range of communications such as displays, newsletters and website updates to celebrate and demonstrate commitment to high quality PSHE education, including RSHE?
- how to promote stability and sustainability in the RSHE/PSHE education teaching team