MPs have voted in favour of the new RSHE Curriculum, which is mandatory from September 2020. Schools however are encouraged to adopt the new curriculum from September 2019.
We’ve created a free guide on the changes below.
What does the Relationships part of the new curriculum cover?
The relationships part will cover five main topics ‘Families and people who care for me’, ‘Caring friendships’, ‘Respectful relationships’, ‘Online relationships’, and ‘Being safe’.
It is widely agreed that all children must be able to identify abusive behaviour, and be able to seek help if they are experiencing or notice abuse. The new guidance states that by the end of primary school all children should know: ‘how to report concerns or abuse, and the vocabulary and confidence needed to do so’.
The new curriculum promotes equal, safe and enjoyable relationships and is to be taught in a way which fosters both gender, and LBQT equality, which is line with the Equalities Act 2010.
What about the Sex Education part of the new curriculum?
The new curriculum suggests that schools should decide on the content of their sex education programme, and ensure that it is ‘tailored to the age and the physical and emotional maturity of the pupils’. Sex education ‘should ensure that both boys and girls are prepared for the changes that adolescence brings and – drawing on knowledge of the human life cycle set out in the national curriculum for science – how a baby is conceived and born’.
And the health part?
The Health Education section in the new curriculum has for main topics: puberty, the changing adolescent body, menstrual wellbeing and the menstrual cycle. There is guidance for both Primary and Secondary schools.
Together, along with the Science curriculum, the RSHE curriculum aims to protect children by ensuring they have knowledge of their bodies, the human life-cycle, emotions, acceptable behaviour and right and wrong.
Does your school need to have its own RSHE policy?
In short: yes. Both primary and secondary schools must have a written RSHE policy. It is imperative that parents are consulted in both developing and reviewing the policy, and the policy must meet the needs of pupils and parents and reflect the community that your school serves. Your school should publish the policy on the school website, and make paper copies available to anybody who asks.
Your schools policy must do these four things:
- Define the subjects being taught (Relationships Education, RSE, sex education)
- Set out the subject content, how it is taught and who is responsible for teaching it
- Describe how the subject is monitored and evaluated.
- Include information to clarify parental right to request their child is excused
Do parents want schools to teach RSHE?
The following research, conducted by several sources, suggests that the majority of parents do want schools to teach RSHE, and that it is very important to their child’s education.
- 78% of parents want primary schools to teach their children about the difference between safe and unwanted touch and how to speak up if someone treats them inappropriately, 11% did not want primary schools to teach this and 11% ‘did not know’ (Independent poll of 1000 parents, Sex Education Forum, 2014).
- 72% of parents think primary schools should teach children about what to do if they find pictures showing private parts of the body online or are asked to send them. (Independent poll of 1000 parents, Sex Education Forum, 2014).
- 92% of parents support the teaching of PSHE education (which includes lessons about staying safe from abuse) in all schools (YouGov poll, PSHE Association, 2016)
Parent / school communication
Parents are generally falling short on teaching RSHE at home, and school is the main source for education on relationships and sex:
For boys, the main source of sex education while growing up is school (39%), followed by friends (24%), with fathers accounting for 3% and mothers 4%.
RSHE must be a partnership between schools and parents, which is why communication between your school and your parents is key. It is important that parents know what is being taught and when, so that they can anticipate and follow their child’s learning, as well as add their own inputs at home. With such a sensitive topic, it is important that parents are aware of what their children are learning when they are not there.
Can parents remove their children from RSHE?
Parents can still remove their children from the sex education element of the new curriculum, however the new curriculum states that young people can opt-in to sex education from 3 terms before their 16th birthday. There is no option for parents to remove their children from Relationships or Health Education. It is recommended that all schools keep a record of any requests by parents to remove their children from any part of the RSHE curriculum.
How can schools involve parents?
It would be a good idea for parents to have a copy of the new RSHE curriculum, and you could email them this link to order paperback copies: https://thenationalcurriculum.com/product/2019-rse
The new RSHE curriculum states that ‘Schools should ensure that parents know what will be taught and when, and clearly communicate the fact that parents have the right to request that their child be withdrawn from some or all of sex education delivered as part of statutory RSE.’
The guidance provides a reminder that ‘many schools build a good relationship with parents on these subjects over time – for example by inviting parents into school to discuss what will be taught, address any concerns and help support parents in managing conversations with their children on these issues’.
It might be a good idea to run a survey to get an understanding of how parents feel about RSHE. Questions should focus on their worries or concerns, and what they would like their children to be taught. It would also be a good idea to host a parent assembly to talk about the new RSHE curriculum.
Paperback copies of the new RSHE curriculum: for schools and parents
You can order paperback copies of the new curriculum here.
We have cost-saving multi-packs for schools, and a 10% discount on single copies for parents.
You can share this 10% discount code with your parents: StayInformed