Guidance

Teaching about relationships, sex and health

Support and training materials for schools to help train teachers on relationships, sex and health education.

From September 2020 all schools must consider the statutory guidance when teaching relationships, sex and health education.

Working with subject experts (ODS, 5.92KB), we have developed these training modules to help schools:

  • improve teacher knowledge and confidence when teaching this curriculum
  • develop and plan their curriculum

At all times when developing curriculum and teaching relationships, sex and health education, maintained schools must comply with their duties under the 1996 Education Act regarding political impartiality. The local authority, governing body and head teacher must:

  • forbid the pursuit of partisan political activities by junior pupils
  • forbid the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in the school
  • take reasonably practicable steps to secure that where political issues are brought to the attention of pupils, they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views

You should be aware that the meaning of political issues does not refer solely to the discussion of party politics. Schools are advised to consider the range of issues on which there could be political views, which may include global affairs, equalities issues, religion and economics.

The Independent School Standards, which apply to all independent schools (and most of which apply to academies) have similar provisions relating to the promotion of partisan political views and offering a balanced presentation of opposing views.

Delivery during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

You may need to consider the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak when delivering the curriculum. In particular, you should ensure you adhere to health and safety and safeguarding policies.

Some of the issues covered in these modules may prompt pupils to raise questions specific to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Teachers may want to discuss how such questions should be addressed.

Develop your curriculum

We are providing information to help school leaders plan and develop their curriculum to make sure it follows the new statutory guidance.

This includes guidance on:

  • curriculum planning
  • creating an inclusive classroom
  • developing a policy for the new curriculum
  • adapting an existing programme of study

Engaging with parents and carers

When planning your curriculum, you must engage parents and carers about your relationships and sex education curriculum. It is important that you set out your approach to the subjects fully and clearly. See engaging parents with relationships education policy for more information. Although aimed at primary schools, much of this guide is applicable to secondary schools.

Consider using our guides for parents to help communicate with them about the new curriculum and what it includes.

When planning their curriculum, state-funded schools should be mindful of the requirement under the Human Rights Act 1998 to respect the right of parents to ensure education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions, and all schools should be mindful of their duties under the Equality Act 2010.

Train teachers on relationships, sex and health education

We have designed these training modules so subject leads or other staff members can train groups of teachers in a variety of ways.

Each module contains:

  • key knowledge and facts to help teach the statutory guidance
  • activities and templates to help run a training session
  • guidance to help teachers tackle difficult questions

The training modules have been split into different topics within the curriculum. You should adapt the slides and activities to fit your school.

Several of these topics are closely related, you should consider this when planning your curriculum and lesson plans.

Primary teacher training modules

Basic first aid

This training module includes information on making an emergency call and concepts of basic first aid.

Caring friendships

This training module includes information on ways of making and choosing friends, online friendships, working through problems and the characteristics of friendships.

Changing adolescent body

This training module includes information on physical and emotional changes in puberty, including menstrual wellbeing.

Drugs, alcohol and tobacco

This training module includes information on legal and illegal harmful substances and associated risks.

Health and prevention

This training module includes information on signs of physical illness, sun safety, sleep, dental health, personal hygiene and allergies.

Internet safety and harms

This training module includes information on internet use, rationing and risk, online relationships, privacy and understanding online information.

Mental wellbeing

This training module includes information on talking about emotions, self-care techniques, isolation and loneliness, the impact of bullying and getting help and support.

Online relationships

This training module includes information on understanding how people behave online, cyberbullying and keeping safe online.

Respectful relationships

This training module includes information on bullying, stereotypes and the importance of respect.


Secondary teacher training modules

Basic first aid

This training module includes information on basic treatment for common injuries, life-saving skills including CPR and understanding defibrillators.

Changing adolescent body

This training module includes information on physical and emotional changes in puberty, including menstrual wellbeing.

Drugs, alcohol and tobacco

This training module includes information on legal and illegal drugs and their associated risks, and laws relating to these substances.

Health and prevention

This training module includes information on personal hygiene, dental health, immunisation and vaccination, sleep, self-examination and screening.

Internet safety and harms

This training module includes information on social media and reality, gambling, influencers, targeted advertising and accessing support.

Intimate and sexual relationships, including sexual health

This training module includes information on healthy intimate relationships, sexual consent and the law, fertility and reproduction, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), contraception and sexual health advice.

Mental wellbeing

This training module includes information on talking about emotions, types of mental ill-health, understanding anxiety and positive wellbeing factors.

Online and media

This training module includes information on using appropriate language online, online behaviour and risks, sharing material online, harmful online content and pornography.

Respectful relationships, including friendships

This training module includes information on healthy friendships, rights and responsibilities regarding equality, damaging stereotypes, bullying, and criminal behaviour in relationships.


We’re also working on teacher training modules on:

  • being safe
  • families
  • healthy eating
  • physical health and fitness

You can sign up for updates to the personal, social, health and economic education topic to get an email alert when we publish new training modules.


Pupils with SEND

In special schools and for some pupils with special educational needs or disability (SEND) in mainstream schools, you may need to tailor content and teaching to meet the specific needs of pupils at different developmental stages.

For pupils with an education, health and care (EHC) plan, you might want to link lesson outcomes with statutory preparing for adulthood outcomes. See SEND code of practice, section 8 for more information about preparing for adulthood.

You should make sure that your teaching is:

  • sensitive
  • age-appropriate
  • developmentally appropriate
  • delivered with reference to the law

Training support for schools

We are working with teaching schools to develop a programme of training sessions to provide high-quality training and support for state-funded schools on a regional basis.

The training aims to:

  • increase understanding of the statutory guidance and curriculum reforms
  • increase confidence and subject knowledge in how to train and support schools to plan and teach high-quality relationships education, relationships and sex education and health education
  • develop networks and peer support mechanisms to assist schools in developing their curriculum and planning

If you’re interested, contact the lead training school in your region (ODS, 5.55KB) for more information.

Published 24 September 2020