PSHE With 2020 Vision

The compass has been reset and it has been long overdue!  

Earlier this year, the Department for Education published new guidance on Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education.

This was needed because the previous guidance was written almost 20 years ago and was out of tune with current lives and relationships. The last time it was published there was no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and the first iPhone was still 7 years away. Times are very different now. 

The guidance outlines what young people should know by the end of primary school and by the end of secondary school. This includes families; friendships; respectful relationships; online relationships and being safe. In secondary school, it includes intimate and sexual relationships. Thankfully, the guidance will be reviewed every three years.

The new DfE statutory Relationships and Health Education guidance does not replace PSHE so it is recommended that schools set this within the wider, PSHE curriculum. Relationships Education and Health Education are part of PSHE education. Important elements such as the rights of the child, caring for the environment, economic education, and parts of British Values and SMSC still need to be included.

The guidance will become compulsory from September 2020 and many schools have already started teaching the new requirements. Schools are encouraged to adopt early and implement the new curriculum if they haven’t already done so. 

The DfE have published ‘frequently asked questions’ information designed to bust misconceptions.

What you need to know 

The legislation introduces three new statutory subjects: Relationships Education for primary; Relationships and Sex Education for secondary; and, Health Education for both. 

These subjects will be part of the basic school curriculum, not the National Curriculum, and will be statutory in all schools

From September 2020

All secondary schools in England will be required to teach Relationships and Sex Education.

All primary schools in England will be required to teach Relationships Education

This includes local authority-maintained schools, free schools, academies, faith schools, independent schools, special schools and alternative provision including pupil referral units.

The primary school focus is on healthy, respectful relationships concentrating on family and relationships both on and offline and the basics of how to be healthy. In secondary schools this is built on by further developing an understanding of health and more focus on risk areas such as drugs and alcohol, as well as introducing knowledge about intimate relationships and sex. Teaching about mental health runs throughout.

Health Education will be introduced as a compulsory subject in all state funded schools in England and includes coverage of: mental wellbeing; internet safety and harms; physical health and fitness; healthy eating; drugs, alcohol and tobacco; health and prevention; basic first aid; and, changing adolescent body (i.e. Puberty education). Independent schools, who are already required to teach PSHE, will not be required to teach Health Education as a new subject.

It is recommended, but not statutory, that all primary schools have a programme of sex education tailored to the needs of their pupils taking account of their age and physical and emotional maturity.

In A Nutshell: The Primary Picture 

The key focus in primary schools is Relationships Education.

Children will learn about the characteristics of positive relationships with specific reference to friendships, family relationships, and relationships with other children and adults. This will include the values of diversity, inclusivity and acceptance and schools are encouraged to cover LGBT+ content, if they consider it age appropriate, and this has been highly controversial.

Lessons will include discussion about isolation, loneliness, unhappiness, bullying and the negative impacts of poor health and wellbeing.

This will generate lots of opportunities to help children learn more about emotional and mental wellbeing, how relationships can impact on their overall wellness, as well as the benefits of hobbies, interests and participation in their own communities.  

Purposeful Policies 

All schools must have a policy on Relationships Education and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and this should take account of pupils’ needs and the community they serve and schools should work closely with parents when planning and delivering these subjects.

If a primary school chooses to teach Sex Education, they must also have a policy in place. 

Schools need to work closely with parents when planning and delivering RSE and so should consult parents in the development of policies so it “meets the needs of pupils and parents and reflects the community they serve.”

The policies should:

  • be up-to-date and made available, for free, to parents and others
  • define each area
  • set out the content, how it is taught and who is responsible for teaching it
  • describe how the subject is monitored and evaluated
  • include information on a parents’ right to withdraw their child
  • confirm when the policy will be reviewed

Schools should ensure that Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education is accessible to all pupils and recognise that pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) may be more vulnerable to exploitation, bullying and other issues due to the nature of their SEND.