Preparing for something new at a time when we’re all desperate to get back to what we know may seem odd, but actually, right now is the perfect time to focus on the upcoming statutory content.
As pupils return to school after extended time away, emotional and physical wellbeing will be crucial – what experiences will they have had in lockdown? Relationships work will be vital; as our worlds have shrunk we’ve all developed a new sense of “normal.” Was their “normal” positive?
For teachers and leaders the question to ask is: what can I be doing now, working from home, to best prepare for Statutory Relationships and Health Education?
Here are some key things you can be doing right now:
1 | What’s your starting point?
First things first, you can get to grips with the statutory guidance and what that means for your school. What content is new, what existing work can you tweak?
You don’t necessarily have to start from scratch if your foundation is already strong.
Audit your current provision before you plan how to move forward.
2 | Getting every interested party on board
Find out the views of parents and any concerned community groups and (most) importantly ascertain the views of children – what do they already know and what do they want to know?
The curriculum is for them, not for anyone else so whilst we need to be really clear on what we as a school mean by “age and stage appropriate” and having a curriculum that “meets the needs of the community”, it still needs to be driven by what will provide the most balanced and inclusive content for our pupils.
3 | Create a bespoke policy
It’s really important that you do this before you pick your resources so you know what you are aiming towards.
As leaders, be really clear of how you have come to the decisions you have on the Scheme of Work and share with all staff and other parties.
Explain why you consider something to be age and stage appropriate and why you consider something to be part of relationships education (statutory, pupils cannot be withdrawn) and not sex education (non-statutory for primary schools, right to withdraw).
I’ve created this document to support you with this stage of the process.
4 | Choose your resources
Bespoke or off-the shelf? What are the pros and cons of each? Consider the “peculiarities” of your school; the work you’ve done consulting with parents and children will help to inform your decision.
5 | Train your staff
Once you’ve agreed on all of the above you’ll actually need the lessons to happen. Why not use the time now to ensure staff are consistently and confidently trained in this area?
Staff come to it with their own views and life experiences – we don’t come to a subject “emotionally neutral” so good training will enable staff to consider their own biases etc. too and will clearly define what the school considers “age and stage appropriate” etc. to mean.
If this is an area where you really need support, I recently produced a series of training videos to cover the Relationships Education part of statutory status which considers all of this in much more detail. There are two specifically for SLT/subject leaders and two for all staff.
Free Statutory Relationships and Health Education Resources
At Services For Education we have created a free roadmap and webinar series to support schools leading up to Summer 2020 including a variety of different resources to help you consult with parents and children, create policies and train your staff. You can access all of that here.
Or if you would prefer some bespoke support, I am more than happy to consult with you and your staff online during this period.
Remember – when we are all back to “normal life”, school staff will be keen to put their professional skills to the test in ensuring children catch up with any academic curriculum missed.
However if we picture a pyramid with academia at the top, then securing the base of the pyramid involves working on forming positive relationships and good health.
Jo Perrin is Relationships an and Health Education Lead for Services For Education. Get in touch at [email protected].