RSE and Health Education Thematics

The RSE and health education guidance is organised around key themes.

The themes for Relationships Education in primary schools’ themes are:

  • families and people who care for me
  • caring friendships
  • respectful relationships
  • online relationships
  • being safe

The themes for Relationships and Sex Education in secondary schools, this curriculum content is built upon and new content are:

  • families;
  • respectful relationships, including friendships;
  • online and media;
  • being safe;
  • intimate and sexual relationships, including sexual health.

Puberty and menstruation is introduced and taught through the statutory health education curriculum; theme the changing adolescent body. Other themes of the health education programme for both primary and secondary education include:

  • Mental wellbeing
  • Internet safety and harms
  • Physical health and fitness
  • Healthy eating
  • Drugs, alcohol and tobacco
  • Health and prevention
  • Basic first aid
  • Changing adolescent body

The guidance states that health education should cover the key facts about puberty and the changing adolescent body, particularly from age nine to age 11, including physical and emotional changes.

Primary schools are expected to teach about menstrual wellbeing in Health Education, including the key facts about the menstrual cycle.

It is advised that puberty, including menstruation, should be addressed before onset.

This highlights the importance of delivering this information in a timely way that prepares children for the changes they will experience.

The content covered in relationships, sex, and health education will often overlap with some of the content taught in the science curriculum as well as other subjects such as religious education, PE, or computing.

Your Task

Which thematic areas do schools and organisations currently cover across timetabled lessons linked to the national curriculum, through tutorials and form time, via assemblies and events?

Use this quick mapping tool to help you to think about what RSE themes and topics may already be covered, or what could be covered, think about where and how you could build upon already existing lessons to explore the subjects further to include the RSE and health education aspect. Carrying out this task can help to identify any gaps and plan for delivery.


The National Curriculum

In England and Wales the national curriculum must be taught in all local-authority-maintained schools. Other schools, such as academies and free schools, are able to opt-out of following the national curriculum should they wish to, although academies must teach a broad and balanced curriculum and include English, Maths and Science.

The National Curriculum sets out programmes of study for subjects in key stages 1 – 4.

Follow the links below to access the relevant subject curriculum documents