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New requirements for Relationships Education and Health Education
Our answers to teachers' questions


Below are our answers to the most popular questions we've heard from teachers thinking about changes which will be due in September 2020. As the largest charity provider of PSHE and wellbeing resources and training, we’re here to help you. If you have a question that’s not covered here, then please email us at: cle@coram.org.uk.


1. Does the new DfE statutory Relationships and Health Education guidance replace PSHE?

No. From September 2020, you'll need to be delivering the DfE's Relationships Education and Health Education statutory guidance and it’s recommended that you do this within the wider, PSHE curriculum. This will require new or increased curriculum content for many schools, new policies and renewed consultation with parents. But the new guidance doesn’t cover everything needed for a comprehensive PSHE curriculum. Vital elements such as the rights of the child, caring for the environment, economic education, and parts of British Values and SMSC are not included.

A SCARF subscription gives schools access to a comprehensive PSHE programme that delivers all this. We also provide a free Relationships Education policy template and guidance document – find this in RSE guidance and support materials under the My SCARF tab.

We asked the PSHE Association for their advice on this and received this from their Deputy CEO Jenny Barksfield:

“The new DfE guidance states that schools must have policies for Relationships Education. Schools may choose to have a PSHE policy (this has never been mandatory) as they are likely to have other subject specific policies which will obviously link to their Relationships Education and RSE policy. I would think separate policies are better but schools may choose to incorporate them together.

Likewise, we continue to advise and campaign for PSHE education in its entirety. Relationships Education and Health Education are part of PSHE education but the other aspects that have not been made statutory are just as important – including the aspects from the 3rd section of our Programme of Study: Living in the Wider World. We are updating our Programme of Study and this will be released in due course but we would not recommend that schools only teach the statutory aspects of PSHE education.”

2. Do we have to teach about LGBT identities and families?

Yes, the statutory guidance states that schools must teach about families of many forms and this includes LGBT parents.

The public sector equality duty, created under the Equality Act, also requires schools to eliminate discrimination and to advance equality in its everyday business, in the design of its policies and curriculum. At Coram Life Education we also believe that we have a responsibility to normalise the diverse range of trusted people in children’s lives.

3. My understanding is Sex Education is non-statutory and therefore parents can withdraw from it. Which parts of SCARF include Sex Education?

We interpret sex education to mean puberty, conception, reproduction and birth. All of these themes, with the exception of conception, are statutory and are included in either Health Education or National Curriculum: Science.

The statutory guidance states that sex education should ensure children know how a baby is conceived. We interpret 'how a baby is conceived' as referring to what happens during sexual intercourse before an egg and sperm meet (reproduction). We therefore include sexual intercourse as well as IVF in our Year 6 Making Babies lesson. NB: this lesson can be adapted to ensure no non-statutory sex education is taught (this would be by omitting the sexual intercourse elements).

Please see our downloadable pdf Our answers to teachers' questions for more detail relating to this answer.


4. How early do I need to be delivering menstruation to the girls? I’ve heard it needs to be Year 3 which feels too early for my pupils.

The statutory guidance states puberty should be covered in Health Education and should be addressed before onset so, as far as possible, pupils are prepared in advance for changes they will experience. Best practice states that menstruation education should be delivered to both boys and girls, as learning about menstruation is a concept of reproduction, as covered by the national curriculum science and fosters good relationships by breaking down the stigma of going through these changes leading to less bullying. However schools retain the freedom to determine an age-appropriate, developmental curriculum which meets the needs of young people, so can deliver themes at a later stage if that best meets their pupils’ needs.

Please see our downloadable pdf Our answers to teachers' questions for more detail relating to this answer.


5. How do the RSE elements of SCARF support the values of faith schools and their delivery of RSE?

The RSE elements of SCARF are based on the SCARF values of Safety, Caring, Achievement, Resilience and Friendship. We believe that all children deserve to be safe, cared for and to learn the skills they need to develop healthy relationships. We feel there is a natural fit between these values and the ethos of schools with a religious character.

The themes within the RSE elements of SCARF help children from all backgrounds to build positive and safe relationships, and to thrive in modern Britain. Schools with a religious character must deliver Relationships Education as described in the statutory guidance, with the flexibility to teach their distinctive faith perspective on relationships too, whilst being clear what is opinion or belief and what is information regarding the law and legal rights.


6. What are the requirements to consult parents?

Schools must consult parents when developing and reviewing their RSE policy. This should include providing examples of resources to be used to reassure parents and support them to continue the conversation at home.

Please see our downloadable pdf Our answers to teachers' questions for more detail relating to this answer.


7. How can we communicate with parents?

Schools are expected to communicate with parents regarding their RSE policy’s content, including resources of any sex education they choose to deliver. The key to this process being effective is to use this as an opportunity to dispel any myths regarding what might be taught – and to build trust. Consider running workshops and training with staff before talking with parents, so that staff can talk confidently about the subject as the questions arise.

Please see our downloadable pdf Our answers to teachers' questions for more detail relating to this answer.


8. What about Mental Health?

The Health Education section of the new DfE statutory requirements have a whole section on mental wellbeing. This also comes into many of the Relationships Education outcomes – particularly the categories of Respectful Relationships (including bullying behaviours) Online Relationships and Being Safe.

Please see our downloadable pdf Our answers to teachers' questions for more detail relating to this answer.


9. Is there any training available?

Coram Life Education offers regional one-day teacher training every spring term. Look out for dates coming soon on our website or contact us directly. Should these dates not be convenient we can also run full or half-day twilights and come to your school working in partnership with our local delivering partner, where appropriate.

Our sessions provide:

  • Guidance on what schools are expected to deliver in Relationships Education, with reference to Coram Life Education’s SCARF resources (our SCARF resources are used for demonstration only and you do not need to have them to benefit from the workshop).
  • Resources and strategies to help teachers identify the needs of their own pupils and plan how to meet them.
  • Strategies to enable schools to communicate effectively with parents.The confidence to deliver Relationships Education (as part of PSHE) and to identify and respond to pupils’ needs in regard to keeping safe, healthy relationships and puberty.


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