Relationships, sex and health education: what to do next?
Schools don't have to tackle the issue alone, says 1decision's Hayley Sherwood
Posted by Julian Owen | October 16, 2018 | Health & wellbeing
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The announcement that relationships education will be compulsory for all pupils receiving primary education, that relationships and sex education (RSE) will be mandatory within secondary schools, and that health education will be compulsory in all schools except independent schools, left me with mixed views.

On the one hand, I was disappointed that personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) as a whole was not awarded mandatory status: a move the vast majority of headteachers appeared to favour. On the other hand, I am excited that the decision makes most of the topics covered within PSHE compulsory for all pupils, in all schools, from 2020.

The latest Department for Education (DfE) consultation on relationships, sex and health education - running until 7 November, following the publication in July of draft guidance on how education should prepare young people for life in the modern world, - gives us an opportunity to make sure that this works for all pupils.

All schools will be required to have a written policy in place for relationships education or RSE, made available to parents and others. My expectation is that most schools will continue to cover relationships, sex and health education through a broader PSHE framework; and there is an opportunity to build on the excellent practice that many are taking to tackle the key societal issues facing young people today, helping prepare them for life.

I feel reassured that those schools which have struggled to find time in the timetable for these subjects, despite its proven benefits, will now be able to offer regular, high quality PSHE as a central part of their curriculum.

"All schools will be required to have a written policy in place for relationships education or RSE, made available to parents and others."

My hope is that it will also encourage schools already prioritising PSHE and drive up standards in those which perhaps have not engaged. We do, however, need to ensure that aspects of PSHE which fall outside of relationships, health and wellbeing, continue to be taught well.

We also need to be careful that teachers have appropriate support to be able to deliver the new requirements for relationships, sex and health education. Not only will this create additional workload for teachers – and require time they do not have available – but these topics can be tricky to deal with. Specialist training and/or access to specialist resources, which are age and community appropriate, are crucial.

If you take our 1decision learning resources, for example, we are already working with primary schools to address the relationships, sex and health education requirements set out in the DfE guidance. We particularly support this through our relationships, growing and changing, feelings and emotions, and keeping/staying healthy modules. We help teachers engage children in topics including friendship, bullying, appropriate touch, puberty and healthy eating. We also address a range of wider issues, such as peer pressure, cyber bullying, image sharing, differences within religion, and same-sex marriage.

Schools need to think about children and how they learn, to en