What is Relationships, Health and Sex Education?

In July 2019, the Department for Education (DfE) released a new statutory curriculum changing the previous Sex and Relationship (SRE) to the new Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE).

RSHE is lifelong learning about physical, sexual, moral and emotional development. It is about the importance of stable and loving relationships, respect, love and care for family life. It involves acquiring information, developing skills and forming positive beliefs, values and attitudes.

We believe that the curriculum promotes many values, which will help us to nurture our children to become caring, responsible, respectful and aspirational citizens.

Statutory Content

By law primary schools are required to teach relationships and health education, alongside national curriculum science and within the context of safeguarding and keeping children safe. Here at Avenue Primary School, we acknowledge that parents/carers are a child’s first and most effective teacher and so will ensure that we have annual meetings with parents or carers to discuss our Y5 and Y6 RSE curriculum as well as hear from parents/carers about any concerns or questions they have.

We are clear that our aim is to educate pupils about these important subjects alongside parents and carers.

National Curriculum Science

At key stages 1 and 2, the national curriculum for Science includes teaching about the main external parts of the body and the changes to the human body as it grows from birth to old age, including puberty, and sexual and asexual reproduction in animals and plants.

Health Education (Physical Health and Mental Wellbeing)

The aim of Health Education is to give pupils the information that they need to make good decisions about their physical and mental health and wellbeing. Pupils’ are taught to recognise what is normal development and how to seek support at the earliest stage from appropriate sources if they have concerns about their development or issues with others.

Puberty, including menstruation, is covered in Health Education and should, as far as possible, be addressed before children begin puberty. There is no right to withdraw from Health Education.

Relationships Education

The focus in primary schools is on teaching the fundamental building blocks and characteristics of positive relationships, with family members, other children and adults. Lessons are evidence based, age and culturally appropriate, based in the law and sensitive to the needs of pupils.

For the full subject content see links below. There is no right to withdraw from Relationships Education.

Non-Statutory content

Sex Education

The Government and local advisors strongly recommend, and Avenue Primary School have decided, after consultation with parents/carers, to teach Sex Education beyond that taught within the Science curriculum. The school will be teaching about ‘how a baby is conceived and is born’ in Year 5 following on from the national Science curriculum, which teaches about sexual reproduction in mammals in Year 5.

Sex Education at Avenue Primary School will be taught by trained staff in an age appropriate and sensitive way and we believe will help to prepare children for their move to secondary school.

Parents/carers have a right to withdraw their children from non-statutory Sex Education (i.e. ‘how a human baby is conceived and is born’).

Before granting any such request, parents will also be invited to a parental meeting. Concerns can also be raised and the school will outline the benefits of receiving this important education and any detrimental effects that withdrawal might have on the child. This could include any social and emotional effects of being excluded, as well as the likelihood of the child hearing their peers’ version of what was said in the classes, rather than what was directly said by the teacher.

If the parents/carers still wish to withdraw their child, they need to submit their request in writing to the Head Teacher.

How have we prepared to launch the curriculum and consulted with parents?

  • Over the course of just over two years from 2019, we prioritised researching and designing the best possible curriculum for our children.
  • On behalf of Newham schools, the RSHE network held borough-wide consultations with various different community groups. These groups are detailed below.
Pupils Carried out in December 2018 with three primary and three secondary schools, involving about 130 pupils
Parents/Carers Consultation with over 30 governors who are Newham parents/carers
Faith Groups – 20 survey monkey responses and meeting held with 30 Imams
– 19 different individuals from SACRE, representingMuslims (Sunni and Shia)
Christians (Catholic and Protestant)
LGBT Community Individuals, groups and teachers who identify as LGBT+
Local Councillors Briefing and consultation with over 30
Education Stakeholders 80+ teachers attended training,
55+ teachers attended Network Meetings
SEND educational services
Head Teachers including Nursery Head Teachers
Ofsted DfE and Ofsted
School Governors Around 130 attended training at Education Space on RSHE
Professional Association Young people’s sexual health services
Other Birmingham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets RSE leads
  • At Avenue Primary School, we held parent/carer consultations to gather parental views and shared some of the books and images we might use to support learning in this area. For parents/carers who could not attend these meetings we offered the opportunity to arrange a meeting with a member of SLT or complete an online survey. Details of our consultations process is below:
Parents / Carers Questionnaire for YN – Y6 Parents (19th Oct 2020)
Policy Consultation Meetings (WB 2nd Nov 2020)
Y5 & Y6 Parent information meetings on RSE teaching (from 2021 yearly)
Staff Planning meetings with Y5/6 teams to discuss implications of the new guidance on our planning (Summer 2020)
Review of our RSHE Policy 2020 to be in line with new DfE expectations (7th Oct 2020)
Science Lead, R.E. Lead and Y5/6 Year Group Leader consultation
Teacher training on new teaching elements of policy (10th May 2021)
Planning meetings prior to new Positive Relationship Weeks (Yearly from May 2021)
School Governors Review of Policy and Consultation Process (15th Oct 2020)


  • After we collated feedback from the parents/carers that contributed their views and opinions, we then made the following changes:

Amendments regarding key aspects of RSHE as a result of the consultation

Findings Actions as a result
– 63% of parents agree with teaching names of Scientific ‘private body parts’ from Year 1
– Parents have expressed concern however at showing images of the penis and vulva to children before Year 5.Note: Borough advisor cited a case where an abuser was not convicted because a child do not know correct terminology for the parts of her body
– Scientific names of ‘private’ body parts to be taught in year 1, but mainly verbally and with the use of the outline of a body only – no specific images.
– Images for ‘private’ body parts only to be used in Y5&6 when learning about puberty (Illustrations only).
– 48.3% of parents believe lessons on puberty should begin in Year 5 (19.5% in Y6, 12.5% Secondary, 19.5% not at all)
– 37.3% of parents believe ‘How a baby is conceived and born’ should be taught in Primary School
– 63% Secondary school students in Newham say that they think that pupils should learn how a baby is made and born at primary school age (Newham Consultation)
– Parents want to be given notice of exactly when this content will be taught and have access to resources
– Lessons on Puberty will be introduced in Year 5
– ‘How a baby is conceived and born’ will be introduced in Year 5 in Positive Relationships week alongside sessions around puberty.
– Parents will be clearly informed of how to withdraw their child from sex education if they wish to.
– A letter and meeting will be offered to all parents before positive relationships week, with relevant information available to view on the website (policy/planning).
– Parents have expressed concerns at showing animations of human reproduction
– Parents have expressed concerns with pupils seeing real people washing their naked bodies – as previously shown in the puberty video clips
– The video clips will be edited so no animations or videos are used to represent human reproduction.
– Only illustrated representations of body parts will be used to teach hygiene and names of the body parts.
– Some of the Jigsaw content is not in-line with our policy and these changes All Jigsaw resources related to Growing up to be reviewed and clear slides to be created for each lesson across the school (delivered in Summer 2).

Avenue Primary School

Please click on the link to view Avenue Primary School Consultation Structure.


The school has a selection of materials to encourage active and participatory learning methods that it uses to deliver elements of RSHE education. One key resource is a programme called ‘Jigsaw’, which helps us to structure the children’s learning through the key stages and provide supporting materials.

Click the links below for an overview of how Jigsaw supports the school in teaching RSHE content:

Jigsaw 3-11 Relationships and Health Education Objectives Map
*Note the phase in which some of this content is delivered has been altered in line with the school’s consultation process

Jigsaw: RSHE Guide for Parents and Carers leaflet 2020

Materials used will be available for parents to view upon request and as part of parental curriculum meetings.

See below for an overview of which topic is taught in which term:

  1. Being Me In My World
  2. Celebrating Difference
  3. Dreams and Goals
  4. Healthy Me
  5. Relationships
  6. Changing Me

The RSHE subject leader ensures that resources are appropriate and up to date for the school’s use in teaching RSHE. All Jigsaw resources related to ‘Growing Up’ (Summer 2) are reviewed regularly and clear Google slides have been developed for teachers to ensure each lesson across the school covers appropriate content for our context.

The specific content for the Year 5 and 6 Positive Relationships week, including content around sex education, can be found here:

Positive Relationships Week – Year 5 Planning Sequence 2024
Positive Relationships Week – Year 6 Planning Sequence 2024

Annual Y5 & Y6 Parent/Carer Consultation

We hold meetings with parents and carers of Year 5 & Year 6 children prior to their Positive Relationships Week. In these meetings, we discuss our rationale behind our approach to teaching RSHE and we share the lesson objectives and resources. Parents and carers can ask questions and discuss the content with class teachers, subject leads and the SLT during the meetings.