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Relationships, Sex and Health Education 2020/2021

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The Department for Education has issued an update on relationships, sex and health education for the academic year 2020/2021:

"We are aware of the unique pressures that schools are facing this academic year, and the difficulties that they may have in teaching some RSHE content remotely. We know that many schools have been providing excellent RSHE teaching during this academic year and that, where this has been possible, it will have had benefits for pupils and supported their mental health during this challenging period. We also appreciate that some schools may struggle to offer a comprehensive RSHE curriculum this year, which covers everything in the Department's statutory guidance, and we would like to reassure schools that it is for them to decide what can reasonably be achieved within the confines of their statutory duties. 

"The law requires schools to provide some relationships, sex and health education to all secondary age pupils in the academic year 2020/21, and to provide some relationships and health education to all primary age pupils. Schools are also required to publish a Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) policy and toconsult parents on this. In all teaching, we expect schools to comply with relevant legislation. We are aware however that for many schools, development of a fully comprehensive relationships education/RSE policy and RSHE curriculum will be an iterative process, which will need to continue into next year. Detailed curriculum planning will be required to consider how the RSHE subjects relate to and are supported by other subjects within the curriculum, including science and citizenship, and it is important that schools take the time to get this right.

"Engagement with parents on the school's RSE policy could be delivered online and does not necessarily need to be in person, and we are aware that many schools have been able to do this effectively. Some schools may choose to focus this year's RSHE teaching on the immediate needs of their pupils, introducing a more comprehensive RSHE programme in September 2021.  Teaching in the 2021/22 academic year should seek to address any gaps in pupils' RSHE education this year.

"Teachers and school leaders know their pupils best, and with the additional pressures of Covid-19 and home learning, we encourage schools to prioritise RSHE content based on the needs of their pupils, with particular attention to the importance of positive relationships, as well as mental and physical health."

This additional flexibility for schools is welcome and follows a communication to schools in August 2020 which you can read here .

NAHT would encourage schools who have completed their parental engagement, planning and training for the new statutory curriculum to start teaching; but those schools whose preparation has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic should make use of this flexibility. In the interim period, as the statutory content is phased into the curriculum, schools should continue with their existing programmes of PSHE.

First published 01 July 2020