Tackling Tough Topics

On 22nd June 2021, we were joined by teacher Maureen D’Longhi as part of our Webinar on RSHE: Tackling Tough Topics. Maureen gave some insightful hints and tips for real life, classroom delivery of RSHE.

How to deal with potential issues:

You will know that RSHE delivery needs to be sensitive but also engaging, and it also needs to be accurate and correct.  It is safe to say teachers don’t want to inadvertently do harm.  Selecting quality resources can help with this, as well as good planning and attending CPD.  RSHE lessons should allow students to explore their ideas and opinions confidently.

It is vital that students get the information they need but are not to scared by it.  We know that fear is often caused by a lack of knowledge and therefore concerns over scaring children can be alleviated by providing age-appropriate information and successfully dealing with questions.

Parents can also be concerned about RSHE, especially when they don’t know what to expect.  It is the responsibility of schools to allay the fears.  Setting up a meeting/virtual event in which you show parents what the resources look like and what to expect, can really help put minds at rest.

When planning curriculum, bare in mind that you can mix and match where you teach certain topics, if you think messages would be better delivered in a scientific setting, for example, you could have the biology department deliver a session.  Likewise, citizenship and ICT lessons could cover some RSHE topics.

How to feel more confident:

Start with younger year groups in a more factual and scientific approach, as students progress through the year groups you can build in complexity.

Using scientific language can make it a lot more comfortable for students and for teachers.  The earlier this language is introduced, the more used to it everyone gets.

Do some research into common practices – for example, with STI teaching, the current accepted approach is not to show pictures.

Suggested delivery methods:

Encourage students to discuss things in small groups rather than out loud to the whole class – this makes everyone feel more comfortable and gets the talking going.

You could use a brainstorm at the beginning of the class, or do a mind map per table and then a student or the teacher could reproduce ideas in a big map on the white board – This works well as a starting task.

If you are dealing with uncomfortable topics, you can encourage students to engage in a non-verbal way.  For example, if discussing STIs, you could ask students to show how many STIs they know of by showing a number on their hands.  You could ask students to raise their hands if they have heard of a specific STI before you go into further detail.

Another none verbal cue could be giving visual clues to get students thinking, select safe images which may prompt students to participate with answering what topic you are talking about.  For example, with STIs,  pictures which indicate ‘barrier methods’, ‘regular checks’ etc, then you can go into detail for each picture when students correctly identify them.

You must remember that questions should be encouraged.  Some students may be too nervous to ask questions but you should signpost where they can go to get more safe advice or information.


iAchieve online resources support a wide variety of delivery methods, especially those mentioned above.

RSHE by iAchieve is designed to guide experts and non-experts alike through complex subject matter in a way which builds in the recommended spiral approach, meets statutory guidance and has been approved as age-appropriate and child friendly.  With rigorous review by both NCFE and SEF, teachers can be confident that our resources are quality assured. 

You can test our resources out for yourself by accessing our free sample. This session is for Year 11 and covers sexual and reproductive health.

RSHE by iAchieve is designed to guide teachers through complex subject matter in a way which builds in the recommended spiral approach, so if you like the free sample, you may consider purchasing our package in order to support learners right from year 7 all the way to year 11.

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