How To Make Relationships Education Work


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Is your school ready to offer Relationships Education, and will it increase your workload or improve it?

Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) is statutory for all English schools from September 2020 and it brings a lot of benefits. 

A whole-school approach to relationships attracts a lot of support. If relationships skills are used to build a school’s ethos and policies then everything else should fall into place, particularly school culture and behaviour. Here are a few simple steps are needed to get started.

Getting started

  1. Take stock of what’s working at the school when it comes to relationships and what could be improved.
  2. Are there things you can do to make every member of staff, every pupil, every visitor and every member of the school community valued and to feel welcome?
  3. Look at the school policies and ask yourself if they feature relationship skills – for example:
    • Does any behaviour/discipline policy involve communication and conflict resolution?
    • Do staff policies take stress management into account?
    • Is parental engagement a key theme?
  4. These case studies are a good example of this approach working well.
  1. Northcott School has a whole-school emphasis on communication is tailored to young people’s needs
  2. Wood Farm Primary School approaches results in staff retention and above-average pupil improvement.
  3. XP School’s students are making substantial progress thanks to a radical whole-school approach!

FASTN is working with relationships charities, RSE practitioners, parent groups and educational leaders to raise awareness of why relationships education matters.

Relationships Education

Relationships and Sex Education sets out a clear ambition for all children to have positive relationships for life. It aims to give children the skills needed to form healthy, dependable and nurturing relationships between friends, family, couples and at work. There is also a focus on helping to prepare children to recover from knocks and challenging periods in their lives and help prepare them for life in modern Britain.

For pupils, research has been clear about what those benefits can be – developing relationship skills in childhood can have a positive impact on academic performance, careers, mental and physical health and the ability to have fulfilling relationships in later life.

What’s the best way to deliver it?

Neuroscience tells us that children learn about relationships from experience and from their interactions with others. Until now, learning about relationship skills has been a lot about luck. Relationships Education should increase benefits for all children. Many relationship charities say that whilst the standalone subject is important, learning cannot simply be about workshops, this subject cannot stop at the classroom door.

What do young people think of this?

A poll of over 1,000 14 to 17-year-olds revealed that they wanted help with relationships. Over 80 per cent said they wanted help from schools to understand what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like. Around 75 per cent wanted RSE to help them build healthy and lasting relationships and 78 per cent said they considered a lasting relationship to be as important as their career ambitions.

Surveys showed that parents and teachers are overwhelmingly supportive of relationships education in schools too.

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