Additional support offered to school leaders and staff to help implement new relationships and sex education | Education Support
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Relationship and sex education - support for teachers

Additional support offered to school leaders and staff to help implement new relationships and sex education

30th January 2020

Leading education organisations are meeting today (30 Jan) to discuss the emotional support which could be offered to staff involved in the national rollout of compulsory changes to relationship, sex and health education in England.

The Department for Education is introducing compulsory Relationships Education for primary pupils and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) for secondary pupils from September 2020.

Education Support, the UK’s mental health and wellbeing charity, and school leaders’ union NAHT have convened the event, which also involves representatives from the Department for Education, Ofsted, National Education Union, National Governors Association and Stonewall, alongside other organisations, senior school leaders and staff.

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary at NAHT, said: “There is widespread agreement from schools, parents, policy-makers and young people themselves about the need to provide high quality relationships and sex education. It is not just the law, it is the right thing to do. We must make sure young people are properly educated about the world around them.

“This requires careful engagement and implementation, so we must also make sure the school’s leadership are setting the right tone, doing the right things and staff are getting the right support.”

Some early adopter schools have experienced parental concerns during the process of engagement as they develop their policy on the new curriculum. In a few rare cases primary schools have been the targets of campaigning, protests and abuse relating to their commitment to equality and diversity, and the teaching of LGBT+ inclusive relationships.

Sinéad Mc Brearty, CEO at Education Support, who is Chairing the roundtable, said: “The feedback we’ve received from early adopter schools – both directly and through sector partners –is that some staff have found the engagement phase challenging and emotionally demanding.

“Specific groups, such as senior leaders or LGBT+ staff, might be affected in different ways or to a more acute level. Our discussions today will allow us to adopt a more tailored approach to the support we offer during both the engagement and implementation phases.

“This piece of work is not about the content of the RSHE curriculum; simply about ensuring that staff have access to the most appropriate and impactful support to help them manage their mental health and wellbeing during a potentially challenging period.”

Education Support is exploring the possibility of offering issue-focused support, alongside working closely with partners to develop practical advice and guidance for school staff on managing their wellbeing during the rollout.

During 2018/19, Education Support directly supported a record 14,081 people working in education, through services including their 24/7 helpline, staffed by accredited counsellors. For more information about the charity’s work visit educationsupport.org.uk.

NAHT has been at the forefront of efforts to make statutory relationships and sex education a reality, and has supported leaders in schools which have faced opposition to their teaching of equality, diversity, and LGBT+ inclusive relationships.