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Have school closures impacted the introduction of the statutory RHE changes?

September saw the introduction of statutory RHE in primary schools, with a grace period to allow for the disruption caused by the summer term’s lockdown. Although Ofsted isn’t carrying out formal inspections for the rest of 2020, they have recently published guidance on how they will inspect and gather evidence on how schools promote equality and enable pupils’ understanding of protected characteristics, including through statutory RHE provision.

So how can a school demonstrate its preparedness for inspection, and how does using Discovery Education’s Health and Relationships education programme help? Here’s a checklist, based on Ofsted’s guidance:

Enabling personal development

A policy and school ethos stating ‘value and respect for everyone’ or that ‘encourages respect’ is not enough on its own to make the grade: schools should be able to demonstrate how they enable personal development in an age-appropriate way. An example given for primary schools is teaching about different family groups: the Health and Relationships programme promotes diversity and difference throughout, but there’s a particular focus within the Families and committed relationships and Similarities and differences topics.

The former contains positive representations of different family set-ups to reflect children’s real-life situations – single parents of both sexes, extended families, same-sex parents, families of mixed races and cultures – presented matter-of-factly and without judgement; the latter puts the emphasis on exploring and celebrating difference and identity, recognising and challenging stereotypes related to identity and relationships, and encouraging pupils to identify their own strengths and abilities as well as those of others.

Leadership and management

If a school has not yet planned its Relationships Education and Health Education curriculum or is in the process of doing so, Discovery Education’s programme provides what is needed. It includes teacher guidance on how to integrate the programme into the curriculum, whole-school planning and progression, measuring progress and impact, and creating a school policy which enables schools to articulate what is being taught and why, and how this benefits all their pupils.

The programme is accessible and adaptable for all pupils, and as learning is developed progressively throughout the age groups, content is sensitive and age-appropriate, meeting the needs of all children at different ages and stages. The comprehensive parental workshops and template letters, which are tailored to each specific year group, give support when communicating home. Topic and progression grids enable teachers to share a snapshot of the content and key vocabulary. Using the materials provides evidence that a school is delivering, or ready to deliver the statutory guidance, or, during the grace period, that it is in the process of doing so.

Sensitive and inclusive resourcing

One key aspect of promoting equality and understanding of protected characteristics is in the resources schools use, and the representation of people and lives within them. Imagery is all-important – is there diversity of representation, or are children seeing one way of living and being (often a white, nuclear family way)? Are all children seeing themselves and their lives represented, and are all these representations positive ones? Teaching about protected characteristics and diversity is as implicit as it is explicit – it’s there in the images shown, the books read, the language used and the judgements implied.

The Health and Relationships programme, as shown above, places images of diversity and inclusion upfront, not in the background: for example, one video introduces us to two contrasting families and their very different lifestyles, another explores a diversity of family relationships, focusing on their common characteristics of love, respect and commitment, not what the relationships look like, and one more highlights strengths and skills of children who confound stereotypes or expectations. Related lesson plans explore these issues further, encouraging children to see the diversity of the world around them – and their place in it – in an accepting and positive way by considering their own values and by considering, questioning and challenging different situations.

A safe and inclusive learning environment for every pupil

A safe teaching and learning environment means one in which everyone feels included, heard and visible. When ground rules are established, questions are encouraged and answered and learning is relevant to, but distanced from, direct personal experience, it enables learning without judgement.

The programme’s guidance on ensuring safe teaching and learning is flagged at the beginning of every lesson, with additional information relating to specific lessons or issues being explored where relevant; signposting to sources of further advice or help, including within school is provided. Materials for every year group use a common, inclusive imagery and language enabling a common, inclusive expectation for behaviour and learning.

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Confidently deliver the new curriculum requirements 

Discovery Education Health and Relationships covers the statutory requirements for teaching primary Health Education and Relationships Education from September 2020. It contains lessons for teaching all aspects of the guidelines, including the non-statutory aspects. View the programme progression.