RSHE: What’s new this term?

The compulsory element to the guidance for relationships and sex education has been delayed due to the pandemic. However, “All schools in England are expected to have a full programme of RSHE up and running this year, and we are here to support you to make this the best it can be.” SEF

All teachers and school staff will need to be up to date on what is contained within the syllabus.

What’s changing?

Although it’s been mandatory to cover RSE since 1999, until now, there hasn’t been a standardised framework, and the Health Education element was not compulsory.

The DfE update in February 2021, confirmed that statutory status of Relationships, Sex and Health Education came into effect in September 2020. It advised, ‘teaching in the 2021/22 academic year should seek to address any gaps in pupils’ RSHE education this year.’ You can read our detailed update here.

The compulsory relationships, sex and health education content (RSHE) is described in the government’s statutory guidance.

Changes to Content

Schools and colleges need to ensure statutory content is covered within a planned, sequenced programme with a ‘whole-school approach’ to RSE and HE. 

The recommended spiral approach means that your RSHE planning should revisit topics year upon year, build in complexity at an age-appropriate time and reinforce previous learning. Different topics and issues should intertwine and overlap in the way they do in the real world.

Statutory content should ideally be covered within the broader curriculum.  You may look to include non-statutory elements such as economic wellbeing and careers. The DfE say: “Detailed curriculum planning will be required to consider how the RSHE subjects relate to and are supported by other subjects within the curriculum, including science and citizenship, and it is important that schools take the time to get this right.”

Changes to administrative compliance

All schools and colleges need to publish their RSHE policy on their school website with a general overview of how the content will be covered.

Consultation with parents on the policy development is an essential requirement. Parents should clearly understand that they can only withdraw their children from the sex education element of RSHE.  See our guide on what parents can withdraw their children from.

It is important to note that 3 terms prior to their 16th birthday, students may opt back in to the sex education element and therefore a plan for how to reintroduce students should be made and discussed.

Changes for RSHE leaders

Schools will need to have a middle leader responsible for RSHE. This is likely to be the current PSHE lead, given their familiarity with the curriculum.

RSHE leaders should:

– Ensure that their school has an updated RSHE policy.

– Meet the “end of secondary school” expectations of what students should know with their planned curriculum.

– Confirm all planned content is age-appropriate. The PSHE Education Programme of Study (KS1-5) provides a suggestion for what schools can cover at various stages.

– Support teachers with their delivery.

– Provide or organise appropriate staff training.

– Consult with parents, inform them of curriculum content and reassure them of the value of this aspect of their child’s education.

– Design a well-planned RSHE programme which build students’ knowledge, understanding and skills as they progress through their school career.

Changes for classroom teachers

Most schools already cover much of the new guidance within their existing curriculum. But the new guidance is not just about coverage, it’s about levelling up delivery. 

Classroom teachers should:

– Familiarise themselves with new topics included in statutory guidance.

– Gain a solid understanding of additional guidance on inclusion and differentiation. 

– Consider hands-on activities which will elevate their RSHE teaching.

– Acquaint themselves with their school’s new RSHE policy. This may have specific requirements on handling questions or using approved resources.

– Understand the parental right of withdrawal from sex education aspects of RSHE. You can consult our guide for more information.


Teaching staff need to be trained to deliver safe, effective RSHE lessons. It is often the case that teaching staff are teaching outside of their subject specialism.  Although it can be daunting, and perhaps a little bit awkward, there are many opportunities to attend free CPD training with the likes of SEF.

With appropriate training and support schools can ensure their teachers are confident and comfortable with what they are teaching.

Staff must also be familiar with their school’s RSHE policy.

Resource curation

Selecting quality, useable and safe resources is really important, so take time to consider resources carefully. Our resource guide contains advice for selecting quality resources.

iAchieve offer a full and comprehensive RSHE by iAchieve package as well as individual topic free resources. Having been through rigorous quality assurance reviews by both CACHE and industry body the Sex Education Forum, you can be confident that our RSHE resources are up to date, factually accurate and fit for purpose.

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