Compulsory RSE delay: an opportunity for PSHE

16 July 2018

Today’s confirmation that compulsory Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) will not be extended to all schools until 2020 presents an opportunity to really understand how PSHE can best support this key government agenda.

The requirement for all schools, including academies, to teach relationships education, and for all secondary schools to teach sex education, was supposed to come into force in September 2019– and whilst some will be disappointed that the roll-out has been delayed for another 12 months, my own view is different.

I should also say this comes as no surprise given the call for evidence that we contributed to in February on ‘Changes to the teaching of Sex & Relationship Education and PSHE’ has not been published – and under the workload protocol, schools must be given at least one year of lead-in time for any major curriculum change.

From my perspective, and this will hopefully come out in the consultation response, the focus on RSE only takes the emphasis away from other important related areas which are covered in PSHE. You can’t separate the two subjects.

Where schools need to be able to take this agenda – and this fits entirely with the design and delivery of our 1decision modules – is for RSE and PSHE to sit side-by-side as compulsory subjects. Our PSHE-based Relationships, Growing and Changing, and Feelings and Emotions modules are already supporting the teaching of RSE. We have also heard that RSE will include information on the perils of social media use. Computer Safety is another of our PSHE modules. Why make one statutory, and not the other? It does not make sense – and surely PSHE will also now become compulsory.

What cannot be in doubt, though, is that schools will need support in delivering this new curriculum. Not only will this create additional workload for teachers – and time they do not have available – RSE is a tricky subject covering very sensitive topics, including pregnancy, sexual diseases and online pornography.

PSHE and RSE lessons are crucial to the development of the whole child and these topics needs to be delivered in a way that captures the attention of the media generation. This is where we are different – we use animated characters alongside child actors to bring RSE and PSHE teaching into the 21stcentury. The schools we work with tells us that this sets us apart from the competition, and that it fulfils a need.

Some schools, teachers and parents are nervous about teaching these subjects and find them off-putting. My message is don’t be: but let’s discuss how 1decision can help individual schools with the delivery of bespoke RSE and PSHE curriculum that address the specific issues and challenges facing that school’s community.

Hayley Sherwood, creator of 1decision, part of Headway learning resources

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