RSE day Q and A session

25th June, 2020

Happy RSE day and welcome to our RSE day Q and A session with National RSHE expert Josie Rayner-Wells.

Throughout today we will be posting questions and answers on Twitter, you can follow the discussion @EducatorSols1 with the hashtag #getreadyforRSHEq&a

Please see below for a summary of questions and answers so far:

Question 1: What is the difference between SRE, RSE, PSHE and RSHE?

Josie: "SRE stands for sex and relationships. The order of the letters has been rearranged to RSE. This is an important change in emphasising the focus on the importance of relationships education, within which sex education is taught and forms a smaller proportion of the curriculum focus.

PSHE stands for personal, social and health education which is still referenced within the new relationships, relationships and sex and health education guidance which is abbreviated to RSHE. What the letters mean is less important that what is learned in them! In fact, many schools choose to call the subject ‘life skills’ or similar as they feel children, staff and the wider school community relate more readily and positively to this."

Question 2: Can parents withdraw their children from RSHE?

Josie: "From September 2020 parents can have their child excused from some or all of sex education taught as part of statutory relationships and sex education, up until three terms before their child turns 16 years. Good practice is also likely to include the head teacher discussing with parents the benefits of receiving this important education and any detrimental effects that withdrawal might have on the child.

This could include any social and emotional effects of being excluded, as well as the likelihood of the child hearing their peers’ version of what was said in the classes, rather than what was directly said by the teacher. We know this has proved a grey area of uncertainty for many schools. For clarification read E-Bulletin 4: Parental Engagement. If you anticipate the new curriculum proving contentious with some parents, we have co-produced tools to support in the avoidance of RSHE related absence."

Question 3: We’re nervous about how to engage parents. How can we do this effectively?

Josie: "Work in genuine collaboration from the outset of RSHE design, development and delivery. Parents should be given every opportunity to understand the purpose and content of Relationships Education and RSE.

Good communication and opportunities for parents to understand and ask questions about the school’s approach help increase confidence in the curriculum. For more help you can book onto our Effective Parental Engagement course. This highly-evaluated course will provide you with model letter templates and customisable PPT to facilitate your parental consultation and engagement sessions with confidence."  

Question 4: We’re already teaching PSHE/RSE in our school. How can we check we’re compliant?

Josie: "To ensure your school is adhering to statutory RSHE teaching take our free RSHE self-assessment tool at here. This self-assessment aligns the key requirements of the new guidance against a whole-school approach. It is quick to complete, providing schools with a RAG rated report to help them identify areas of strength and areas that will require development to ensure compliance with the new legal requirements on schools."

Question 5: Will the statutory RSHE deadline of September 2020 be postponed due to Covid-19?

Josie: "On 4 June the DfE provided confirmation to schools that RSHE will still become compulsory from 1 September 2020 and the new parental right to withdraw will apply. Schools that assess that they are prepared to deliver RSHE and have met the requirements set out in the statutory guidance are encouraged to begin teaching from 1 September 2020 or whenever is practicable to do so within the first few weeks of the new school year.

However, schools have flexibility to decide how they discharge their duties effectively. If they have been unable to adequately meet the requirements because of the lost time and competing priorities brought about by Covid-19, they should aim to start preparations to deliver the new curriculum and start teaching the new content no later than the start of the summer term 2021. Read E-Bulletin 2: Curriculum design to help you approach developing your planned provision."

Question 6: Will Primary schools have to teach sex education from September 2020?

Josie: "Many primary schools already choose to teach some aspects of sex education and will continue to do so. Although the new RSHE guidance does not make sex education statutory for primary schools, The Department for Education continues to recommend that all primary schools should have a sex education programme tailored to the age and the physical and emotional maturity of the pupils. It 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.

Where a maintained primary school chooses to teach aspects of sex education (which go beyond the national curriculum for science), the school must set this out in their policy and all schools should consult with parents on what is to be covered. We know that teaching these subjects can feel a daunting challenge. Our RSE Solution Resource has some practical and fun teaching strategies for sex education, ensuring high-quality teaching and learning of this topic."

Question 7: We’ve had some staff express they are uncomfortable about RSHE, how can we solve this?

Josie: "Staff are often anxious about teaching these pivotal subjects. Teaching RSHE requires very different approaches, strategies and assessment opportunities. Additionally, the classroom environment and behaviour may be managed differently to support pupils to positively engage. The quality of RSE provided in schools in England has been a concern for many years[1]. Numerous surveys and reports have highlighted the importance of training for the staff delivering RSE. Only 6% of teachers had learnt about RSE as part of initial teacher training, nearly a third of teachers have never had any RSE training and 99% would find it helpful to have some guidance as to how to meet the needs of children with SEND[2]. In Norfolk we are fortunate to have a high-quality, evidence-based programme of RSHE support including training. Read E-Bulletin 5: Staff CPD, teaching and resourcing."


Question 8: We want to get it right but don’t know where to start?!

Josie: "Pace of change is very important in carrying your whole-school community with you as you journey towards statutory RSHE. However, time is limited to prepare and so you will need to take your first steps soon! Your 3 next steps should include:

  1. Leadership is always the right starting point as this will provide needed focus and direction. Read E-Bulletin 1: Leadership and Governance
  2. Complete the free RSHE compliance calculator to benchmark your existing practice and identify areas for development
  3. Consult with your stakeholders: pupils, parents and staff to ensure you design, develop and deliver an effective RSHE curriculum that achieves a real impact in ensuring the health, happiness and safeguarding of your pupils.

We have a comprehensive programme of support, provided through a menu of options to ensure your school is fully compliant with the requirements of the new RSHE guidance."

That concludes today's RSHE Q and A session. Thank you to everyone who took part! If you have a different question regarding RSHE please don't worry as we can still help you:

Josie is happy to answer your questions and/or discuss your bespoke needs. Please email us or call us 01603 307710.

We value your feedback, please do get in touch

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