It’s that time of year again….

It’s that time of year when many schools choose to teach their relationship and sex education scheme of work.  For a teacher who has never delivered it before it can seem daunting to be charged with delivering RSE to a class for the first time.  Even amongst professional adults with a wealth of experience behind them, it is a subject that can bring about nervous laughter. Yet professionals need to be able to draw upon a range of practical resources and tried and tested teaching styles to ensure that such an important area of education can be addressed with confidence.

And it is a really important area of education.  It encompasses the teaching of what a healthy and positive relationship is (some students living with domestic violence won’t necessarily know); it teaches the correct names for body parts and about unwanted touch and the right to say no (in an age appropriate way, giving students a voice); it prepares students for physical and emotional changes that will happen to them in puberty (crucially before it happens to them); it teaches respect and tolerance of those who may not share the same lifestyle choices as you (this is not the same as “promoting” any particular lifestyle choice); it enables students to learn about love and relationships alongside the biology of reproduction so putting a more healthy, wider context to it than just the scientific facts.

Yet, in January this year The Sex Education Forum released a new report which shows that young people’s safety may be at risk due to gaps in relationships and sex education.

In summary, their report, based on a survey of over 2,000 young people aged 11-25, found that:

  • 53% did not learn how to recognise grooming for sexual exploitation
  • More than 40% had not learned about healthy or abusive relationships
  • A third (34%) of young people said they learnt nothing about sexual consent at school
  • Only a quarter (24%) of young people said they learnt about FGM, but the figure increased to 40% amongst 11-13 year-olds, suggesting things are starting to change.
  • Half of those surveyed had not learnt from their primary school about how to get help if you experience unwanted touching or sexual abuse.
  • 16% had not learnt the correct names for genitalia and 17% had not learnt that the genitals are private to you, all key to recognising and reporting abuse.
  • Young people were more likely to have learnt about the difference between safe and unwanted touch from discussions at home than at school
  • Less than half of young people (45%) said they had learnt about this with a parent or carer.


Even if you are a primary school these figures concern you as naming parts of the body comes up in KS1 Science and by shying away from teaching the correct names of genitalia you are potentially putting your children at a higher risk of ongoing sexual abuse as they don’t have the correct language to tell.  There are shocking stories out there of children using “family terms” for genitalia, telling an adult they didn’t like someone touching them there, but the adult didn’t understand this was a disclosure of sexual abuse.   Not giving our children the vocabulary and facts, alongside the skills and attitudes, can have serious consequences.

The non-statutory nature of RSE also means that secondary schools sometimes find themselves playing catch up.  A secondary with many feeder schools may find some students have covered quite a lot of concepts, whereas others haven’t.  No different to the situation other non-core subject teachers find themselves in you might say, but health and wellbeing are at stake.

Schools can choose not to deliver any RSE outside of the statutory science curriculum – but it  would be fair to argue that that is inadequate for the reasons outlined above.  We also cannot presume that our children are learning from parents at home.  However it is wrong to think children have no knowledge or a correct knowledge– TV, Internet, gossip, elder siblings’ chatter, even animal behaviour at the zoo – their minds aren’t empty but are half full of myths and mistakes.  We owe our children the right to a full, broad, balanced, tolerant and factual education.  This is education in its widest sense.

If you feel on reflection that your school’s RSE policy could do with a refresh, or there isn’t really any policy existing, or your staff need support we do offer a variety of programmes of support.

  • The PSHE modelling programme works by an adviser coming into school to meet with SLT/PSHE lead to discuss an area of focus. There is then a series of three lessons: lesson 1 is taught by the adviser with the class teacher observing, then lesson 2 is planned together.  Lesson 2 is co-taught by the adviser and the class teacher, then there is feedback and lesson 3 is planned.  Lesson 3 is taught by the class teacher and the adviser observes and feeds back.  This has proved really successful in increasing staff confidence.  It also then allows the class teacher to model this to other staff members to provide a sustainable project.
  • We have a full RSE consultation programme (or a “lite” version for schools with some practice in place). This provides schools with intensive support from an adviser to audit what is in place, then there is a full pupil, staff and parental consultation package on the teaching of RSE.  From this the policy is rewritten with support from the adviser.
  • Finally, for those communities where parents have not traditionally supported the teaching of RSE in primary schools we have a bespoke parents consultation project where parents can be fully informed of the rationale behind, and teaching strategies used for, RSE.

For further details please see our programme of support booklet or our website or for general enquiries please email .


Understanding Attachment theory – helping children succeed

It is possible that 10 children in every class of 30 have an insecure attachment to their primary caregiver (Chief Medical Officer’s Report 2012 ‘Our Children Deserve Better’).  In school we demand some level of self-control from children who may have no idea what is happening in their bodies; who are not consciously aware of what drives their behaviour.  We have all worked with children who have no appropriate or healthy way to self-soothe.

Attachment is the word used to refer to the relationship developed between an infant and a parent or primary caregiver during the first two to three years of life. The quality of this relationship between parents/carers and young children is one of the most powerful factors in a child’s growth and development.  Many problems or successes throughout childhood, adolescence and into adult life can be traced back to whether or not a child developed a secure attachment as a baby.  A child who does not develop a secure attachment might show anger or aggression to adults and peers. S/He may be fearful and unable to venture away from adults. S/He may find it difficult to be comforted or to feel safe and not respond to warmth from adults.

Feelings of attachment influence later social development and relationships. This primary relationship is the basis for all other relationships. It also lays the foundation for the development of self-concept and self-regulation.

A knowledge and understanding of attachment can be a first step towards supporting these children and helping them to succeed.  This understanding can help us to provide appropriate responses to unexpected behaviour and consider a range of approaches to help these children to feel safe.

We have been offering courses and bespoke in-school training for a year now.  These explore Attachment theory, permanency and consistency, triggers, managing change,  consider the implications for the child, his/her learning and for the school, and look at resources and strategies.

For more information please contact Liz Bates for more information


Our next course is on June 21st. Click the link below for detail and booking.


Teaching in the EYFS – Tell me how and then we will do it!


Teaching in the EYFS has always been area of discussion when working within schools. Comments like, “I don’t feel like I am teaching if I am playing with the children” “I am more comfortable doing an ‘adult led’ activity as I feel like I am teaching properly then”. Comments like this are not unusual but practitioners in early years do value how important it is to not see play and teaching as separate entities. Most importantly though it not just senior leaders, dinner supervisors, and the adults working in schools that need to understand the complexities of teaching in the EYFS but parents and carers need to know too.

Research has shown that the quality of teaching is a key factor in ensuring that children in the early years are taught the essential foundations for life. We know that if children have quality interactions provided by a quality workforce it will have significant long term effect on children’s learning and development. As a workforce though we need to know that we can’t do this alone, as children are likely to spend more time at home than in the early years setting. We know that children attending high quality provision impacts on raising outcomes but by EYFS practitioners modelling and communicating to parents about how they ‘teach’ in the provision will then enable parents to ‘teach’ their children in the home learning environment. To be able to support our parents and practitioners working in the EYFS let’s consider, what is ‘teaching?’ in the EYFS.

Personally I have worked in the Early Years sector for over twenty years. On reflection, when I remember back to my training how I learnt to ‘teach’ in the EYFS is how I advise schools to ‘teach’ EYFS today. In all honesty, yes there have been a number of changes but what hasn’t changed is how children learn. Knowing how children learn enables the adult to move the child’s learning forward via their teaching. There are many different ways practitioners help children to learn through their teaching so we need to consider that ‘teaching’ in the EYFS is broad.  When practitioners are interacting with children in their play they are ‘teaching’. When practitioners are modelling effective language skills they are ‘teaching’. When practitioners are exploring children’s ideas they are ‘teaching’. We need to see that when an adult is interacting with children they are ‘teaching’ in the EYFS, ‘teaching’ is happening all of the time.

Quality teaching in the EYFS needs to have an environment that enables children to show adults what they understand, know and do. It also needs routines so that it enables children to learn at length and depth with adults interacting and moving the learning forward. By seeing ‘teaching’ in the EYFS as not a formal way of working it allow children to show the adults their interests and dispositions of learning, those ‘characteristics of effective learning’. If children do not have the opportunity to engage with adults and let them know what motivates them in their learning, I am concerned that children will become disengaged in their learning.

I truly believe that as a profession we need to ensure that we work together with parents so that children are being taught effectively in these early years. This we ensure that in the future we have a quality work force which have a range of skills, for example engineers, plumbers, teachers, builders, doctors, so that our children of today become life-long learners in the future.

Whether you need generic training, or would benefit from bespoke support, we are here to help. At Services for Education we provide this. We have a team of accomplished advisers who support school EYFS Practitioners at all levels.

Serena Caine an Education Adviser with Services for Education. She can be contacted on