Whole-school SCARF: Preparation and Planning

About this section

This page supports the development of your curriculum Intent.  Divided into three parts, it gives you tools to audit the provision for PSHE (including RSHE) and wellbeing curriculum. Whether new to SCARF or not, this section helps you assess what's working well and what would benefit from development, guiding you through the process of developing a curriculum that best meets the needs of your children and the school community.

“It is important for schools to promote pupils’ self-control and ability to self-regulate, and strategies for doing so. This will enable them to become confident in their ability to achieve well and persevere, even when they encounter setbacks or when their goals are distant, and to respond calmly and rationally to setbacks and challenges. This integrated, whole-school approach to the teaching and promotion of health and wellbeing has a potential positive impact on behaviour and attainment.” DfE statutory guidance for RSHE para. 85

"The physical, social and emotional environment in which staff and children spend a high proportion of every weekday has been shown to affect their physical, emotional and mental health and wellbeing as well as impacting on attainment." PHE Promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing – p.14 School ethos and environment.

Part 1: Auditing your provision

Successful promotion of children’s health and mental wellbeing is rooted in your school’s values. Wherever you are in the cycle of reviewing these values, taking time to reflect on them – how they are agreed, stake-holder involvement and how they are part of the lived experience of everyone in school – will have a significant impact on outcomes across school, particularly as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having clear values is particularly important when it comes to parental engagement and consultation about your school’s sex education policy and curriculum; a school's underpinning values will help to determine the content of this subject and how it's taught across the school.

Public Health England's research and guidance emphasises the important role that schools' leadership teams have in promoting a culture of wellbeing across the whole school. "Support from the senior leadership team is essential to ensure that efforts to promote emotional health and wellbeing are accepted and embedded. Having a governor with knowledge and understanding of emotional health and wellbeing issues is highly desirable in championing organisation-wide practices.

To ensure actions are integrated, sustained and monitored for impact it is important that a commitment to addressing social and emotional wellbeing is referenced within improvement plans, policies (such as safeguarding; confidentiality; personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education; social, moral, spiritual and cultural (SMSC) education; behaviour and rewards) and practice. It is also important to involve pupils, staff and parents in developing these policies so that they remain ‘live’ documents that are reviewed and responsive to the evolving needs of the school community. PHE Promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing – p.11 Leadership and management.

Resources to help inform school vision and values

Building mental wellbeing: plans and possibilities - the 5 levers of a recovery curriculum – a presentation by Professor Barry Carpenter at the 2021 Evidence for Learning Conference.

From vision to action: developing your school's core purpose – an example and model for developing vision and values

“The family plays a key role in influencing children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing… well-implemented interventions supporting parenting and family life that offer a combination of emotional, parenting and practical life circumstances (combining drug, alcohol and sex education, for example) have the potential to yield social as well as economic benefits.” PHE Promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing – p.25 Working with parents, families and carers.

“The role of parents in the development of their children’s understanding about relationships is vital. Parents are the first teachers of their children. They have the most significant influence in enabling their children to grow and mature and to form healthy relationships. All schools should work closely with parents when planning and delivering these subjects. 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.” DfE statutory guidance for RSHE para. 40-41

Effective parental engagement is an essential part of a whole-school approach to children’s health and mental wellbeing. Strengthening or maintaining good existing relations with parents will also help you in implementing the DfE statutory RSHE guidance effectively, supporting key safeguarding needs of children.

Resources to support parental engagement

Find out more in SCARF’s step-by-step guidance for  Supporting your RSE parent consultation. It's worth checking this guidance, even if you've already completed your RSE parent consultation because it contains many resources to support you with ongoing parent engagement for RSE.

“The curriculum should proactively address issues in a timely way in line with current evidence on children’s physical, emotional and sexual development. This should be in line with pupil need, informed by pupil voice and participation in curriculum development and in response to issues as they arise in the school and wider community.” DfE statutory guidance for RSHE para.113

“Involving students in decisions that impact on them can benefit their emotional health and wellbeing by helping them to feel part of the school and wider community and to have some control over their lives. At an individual level, benefits include helping students to gain belief in their own capabilities, including building their knowledge and skills to make healthy choices and developing their independence. Collectively, students benefit through having opportunities to influence decisions, to express their views and to develop strong social networks.” PHE Promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing – p.19 Student voice.

Engaging pupils’ views as you develop your curriculum for this subject will lead to more successful outcomes. It will help you meet the requirements of the DfE’s RSHE guidance and Ofsted’s curriculum intent expectations. It’s an essential element of a whole-school approach to supporting mental health and wellbeing.

Resources to support pupil voice

We have a range of Pupil Voice resources and guidance, including wellbeing measurement tools and ‘how to’ films, to support and enhance pupil engagement and consultation.

Local health data provides vital information about health behaviours in your community. Taking this data into account when planning or reviewing your curriculum will help you tailor your programme, so that it’s relevant to the needs of your children and community.

Checking your local health data

View the PHE fingertips CHIMAT data to ensure a tailored, evidence-informed curriculum that supports children’s health and mental wellbeing.

We provide all the mapping you need to evidence how the SCARF resources help you to provide a comprehensive PSHE (including RSHE) curriculum. You can tailor your curriculum to your pupils’ needs within our library of additional resources.

Your SCARF mapping tools

View DfE mapping – meeting the statutory RSHE requirements.

View PSHE Association mapping – covering the PSHE programme of study learning opportunities.

View Ofsted self-evaluation tool – an audit toolkit to guide you through Ofsted expectations relating to children’s health and mental wellbeing PSHE (including RSHE).

View National Curriculum mapping – to see how PSHE (including RSHE) can be covered in different subjects.

View 2021 EYFS Framework mapping – to see how SCARF supports you in covering the new framework, including Prime areas, Specific area, ELGs  and Characteristics of effective learning. 

View SCARF’s Subjects and Issues page – see how SMSC (including British Values) is covered within SCARF.

Your school policies relating to children’s health and mental wellbeing need to reflect your values and ethos. Your school’s PSHE (including RSHE) policy should particularly reflect this.

You may choose to have a separate Sex Education policy or combine this with your PSHE (including RSHE) policy. Whichever option you choose, we have guidance and templates to support you.

Policy template and guidance

View the SCARF policy template and guidance – part of the SCARF RSE guidance and support materials page.


Part 2: Planning your PSHE (including RSHE) curriculum

"School-based programmes of social and emotional learning have the potential to help young people acquire the skills they need to make good academic progress as well as benefit pupil health and wellbeing. Opportunities exist to develop and promote social and emotional skills through a dedicated Personal Social Health and Economic education (PSHE) curriculum – including statutory content regarding Relationships Education (RE) and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education. Statutory guidance on the implementation of the curriculum states that such content should be delivered in a ‘carefully sequenced way, within a planned programme of lessons" PHE Promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing – p.16 Curriculum, teaching and learning.

SCARF lesson plans have been designed to cover all aspects of PSHE (including RSHE). The SCARF suggested half-termly units provide a spiral curriculum, ensuring age-appropriate teaching and learning from children’s first to final year at primary school. Whole-school SCARF provides additional tools to help your school promote the learning from lessons across the wider curriculum and across all aspects of school life.

SCARF's flexible curriculum planning tools

Watch this short guide to SCARF's planning tools to understand how they enable you to choose and then tailor your curriculum so that it meets your children's particular needs.

A guided tour of SCARF's flexible planning tools.

Every school is different and the needs of your children and community are different.  We've created a library of additional resources so that you can tailor your curriculum to your school's unique needs. We also provide resources for special calendar events – e.g. Children's mental health week – and SCARF assemblies to help launch and embed each unit's theme.

Additional curriculum resources

View our Additional resources library.

View the Calendar of Special Events.

View the SCARF assemblies.

Wear your Scarf to School day - a special event to support children's mental health week for all SCARF schools. Find out more about Wear your Scarf to School day.

Schools with mixed-age classes use SCARF very successfully. Here is guidance that will support you in using our resources for such groups. 

SCARF lesson plans have a degree of flexibility and opportunities to differentiate built into them; teachers report to us that they don’t have any problems working through, for example, the Y1 then Y2 or Y3 then Y4 half-termly units on a two-year rolling programme. 

Because SCARF lessons form a spiral curriculum through the primary years, the suggested half-termly unit themes are the same for each year group and lesson plans are sequenced in a similar way for each year group, with similar themes and age-appropriate learning opportunities across each year group.

There are just a couple of things teachers may need to plan in more detail and in collaboration with other staff when planning for delivering SCARF to mixed-age classes:

  • SCARF's EYFS plans (both N and R) are designed and written very much around the EYFS framework and pedagogy for early years. Schools with mixed R and Y1 classes will need to give thought as to how best to organise the SCARF plans.  However, EYFS plans also follow the same unit themes as KS1 and 2 and have many resources for both adult-guided activities and enhancements for continuous provision, which could be used alongside lessons of the same theme within the Y1 lesson plans. If your school doesn’t have Nursery-age children, then teachers can draw on SCARF N plans to supplement the material. All the EYFS plans in SCARF have been written by EYFS specialist practitioners. 
  • For children in Y5 and 6, SCARF lesson plans that cover changes that occur at puberty (including menstruation, wet dreams etc.) and non-statutory sex education. These elements may be best taught within children’s own age groups – this will depend on the physical and emotional maturity of the children in your school. Some SCARF schools choose to teach these topics in separate age groups, using the Headteacher, for example, to help cover the staffing needed for this single-age class approach.
  • The SCARF Flexible Planning Tool on our website is a valuable tool for planning for mixed-age classes.  It will help you plan and record what’s being taught across the school. Some PSHE leads use it to plan PSHE for the whole school, creating the plans then sharing these with class teachers. 

Our educator team in Aberdeenshire have worked with a large number of small and very small schools to devise SCARF plans for two- and three-class schools. You can find these plans on the SCARF Policy and Planning page.

There are ways to help strengthen and embed the values that support everyone's emotional health and wellbeing that go beyond the taught curriculum, such as assemblies to reinforce key messages and visual reminders around school.

Resources to help embed a whole-school approach to wellbeing

SCARF assemblies

We have a set of assemblies to help you introduce SCARF values and sets to introduce each of the half-termly unit themes, differentiated for younger and older children. View SCARF assemblies.

Key questions

To promote reviewing and thinking skills. One complete set for each year group, based on the SCARF suggested half-termly units. View the Key questions.

Suggested reading books

View the list of books used to support or enhance SCARF themes and lesson plans.

We provide you with long-term and medium-term planning documents. These help you to provide evidence of a coherently planned and sequenced curriculum that builds knowledge and skills. They can also be used to provide information for parents/carers about the key elements of the curriculum.

Long-term and medium-term planning tools

These are sequenced according to the content of the SCARF suggested half-termly units. We've made them editable, so that you can adapt them if your school prefers to organise the SCARF plans in a different way.

View the SCARF long-term and medium-term plans on the SCARF Policy and Planning page.


Part 3: Staff development and training

"Research and inspection evidence suggests that one of the most important factors in how effectively the curriculum is taught and assessed is that Teachers have expert knowledge of the subjects that they teach. If they do not, they are supported to address gaps in their knowledge so that pupils are not disadvantaged by ineffective teaching." Ofsted Inspection handbook 2019 – section 183 Quality of Education.

Staff training and confidence are vital to implementing an effective PSHE (including RSHE) curriculum and will contribute significantly to teachers' understanding of how the principles of effective PSHE education can have a positive impact across the whole school. 

Our Making the most of SCARF comprehensive staff training is included in your SCARF subscription.  We also provide year-round support and guidance to all our SCARF schools - all at no extra charge.

SCARF schools can also take advantage of the regular free and low-cost training opportunities that we provide. Find out more and view our current training offers.

Accessing your free training and support

To arrange your Making the most of SCARF free training, please get in touch with your local Coram Life Education team, or contact us.

SCARF schools can also take advantage of the regular free and low-cost training opportunities that we provide. Find out more and view our current training offers.

Free high-quality CPD for staff

Coram Life Education now has a partnership with leading a children's mental wellbeing organisation. We'll be publishing information about this, along with a series of free webinars, led by experts within the field of children's mental health, during the early part of the autum term. 

Support for staff wellbeing

Whole-school SCARF also acknowledges the vital importance of staff wellbeing. See the resources and tools for this on the Embedding and Extending page.

In addition to our training for individual staff we also provide bespoke whole-staff training courses. The current courses and workshops that we offer can be adapted for training your whole school: 

If you have any questions about our bespoke training, please contact us.

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