Relationships and Sex Education

Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School Policy for Relationships and Sex Education

Respect, Believe, Achieve

In this policy the governors and teachers, in partnership with pupils and their parents, set out their intentions and rationale about relationships and sex education (RSE) in the school.


In drawing up this policy, the school has been mindful of the important contributions that the various stakeholders can make. In particular, pupil focus groups and school council have been involved, along with the staff review of the RSE curriculum. From the wider school community we have taken valued opinions from the school nurse, the school police office and the school counsellor. Throughout this the governors have had an overarching view.
Implementation and Review of Policy

This policy was implemented by the governing body at their meeting of 22 September 2016. It replaces the previous "Sexual Health Relationships" policy of October 2014. The policy will be reviewed annually.


The draft policy was given to all members of the governing body, and is available to all teaching and non-teaching members of staff through the shared drive and the school website. Copies of the document will be available to all parents through the school website and a copy is available in the school office.

Defining relationship and sex education

The DFE guidance (DFE 2000) defines RSE as "lifelong learning about physical, moral and emotional development. It is about the understanding of the importance of marriage and family life, stable and loving relationships, respect, love and care. It is also about the teaching of sex, sexuality and sexual health". It is about the development of the pupils' knowledge and understanding of her/him as a sexual being, about what it means to be fully human, called to live in right relationships with self and others, and being enabled to make moral decisions in conscience. The DFE identifies three main elements:

  • Attitudes and values
  • Personal and social skills
  • Knowledge and understanding.

Statutory Curriculum Requirements

We are legally required to teach those aspects of RSE which are statutory parts of National Curriculum Science. However, the reasons for our inclusion of RSE go further.


We are involved in relationships and sex education precisely because of our Christian beliefs about God and about the human person. The belief in the unique dignity of the human person made in the image and likeness of God underpins the approach to all education in our Catholic school. Our approach to RSE therefore is rooted in the Catholic Church's teaching of the human person and presented in a positive framework of Christian ideals.
At the heart of the Christian life is the Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit in communion, united in loving relationship and embracing all people and all creation. As a consequence of the Christian belief that we are made in the image and likeness of God, gender and sexuality are seen as God's gift, reflect God's beauty, and share in the divine creativity. RSE, therefore, will be placed firmly within the context of relationship as it is there that sexuality grows and develops.

Following the guidance of the Bishops of England and Wales and as advocated by the DFE, RSE will be firmly embedded and delivered in the PSCHE framework, as it is concerned with nurturing human wholeness and integral to the physical, spiritual, emotional, moral, social and intellectual development of pupils. It is centered on Christ's visions of being human as good news and will be positive and prudent, showing the potential for development, while enabling the dangers and risks involved to be understood and appreciated.

All RSE will be in accordance with the Church's moral teaching. It will emphasise the central importance of marriage and the family whilst acknowledging that all pupils have a fundamental right to have their life respected whatever household they come from, and support will be provided to help pupils deal with different sets of values.

Values and Virtues

Our programme enshrines Catholic values relating to the importance of stable relationships, marriage and family life. It also promotes those virtues which are essential in responding to God's call to love others with a proper respect for their dignity and the dignity of the human body. The following virtues will be explicitly explored and promoted: faithfulness, fruitfulness, chastity, integrity, prudence, mercy and compassion.

Aim of RSE and the Mission Statement

Our Mission Statement commits us to the education of the whole child (spiritual, physical, intellectual, moral, social, cultural and emotional) and we believe that RSE is an integral part of this education. Furthermore, our school aims state that we will endeavour to raise pupils, self-esteem, help them to grow in knowledge and understanding, recognise the value of all persons and develop caring and sensitive attitudes. It is in this context that we commit ourselves:

'Inspired by the person of Jesus Christ and the witness of John Carmel Heenan, we the community of Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School strive to live out our God-given vocation: to believe we are called, chosen and loved; to respect ourselves, others and the world around us, that we may achieve our full potential.'

We aim to live this statement out, guided by the Holy Spirit, through:

  • Being a welcoming and inclusive community that demonstrates the love of God to all we meet, through our words and actions
  • Collective Worship, assemblies, curriculum, policies and a daily life that reflect the Gospel values
  • Building relationships with each other based on the teaching of Christ found in St Luke's Gospel, "Do to others as you would have them do to you."
  • Striving to be good citizens by taking on responsibility for others both locally and nationally and internationally in order to serve the Common Good
  • Nurturing our God-given gifts and talents in every aspect of school life
  • Caring for the environment we are privileged to live in
  • In partnership with parents, to provide children and young people with a "positive and prudent sexual education" which is compatible with their physical, cognitive, psychological, and spiritual maturity, and rooted in a Catholic vision of education and the human person.

To develop the following attitudes and virtues:

  • reverence for the gift of human sexuality and fertility;
  • respect for the dignity of every human being – in their own person and in the person of others;
  • joy in the goodness of the created world and their own bodily natures;
  • responsibility for their own actions and a recognition of the impact of these on others;
  • recognising and valuing their own sexual identity and that of others;
  • celebrating the gift of life-long, self-giving love;
  • recognising the importance of marriage and family life;
  • fidelity in relationships.

To develop the following personal and social skills:

  • making sound judgements and good choices which have integrity and which are respectful of the individual's commitments;
  • loving and being loved, and the ability to form friendships and loving, stable relationships free from exploitation, abuse and bullying;
  • managing emotions within relationships, and when relationships break down, with confidence, sensitivity and dignity;
  • managing conflict positively, and being able to recognise the value of difference;
  • cultivating humility, mercy and compassion, learning to forgive and be forgiven;
  • developing self-esteem and confidence, demonstrating self-respect and empathy for others;
  • building resilience and the ability to resist unwanted pressures, recognising the influence and impact of the media, internet and peer groups and so developing the ability to assess pressures and respond appropriately;
  • being patient, delaying gratification and learning to recognise the appropriate stages in the development of relationships, and how to love chastely;
  • assessing risks and managing behaviours in order to minimise the risk to health and personal integrity.

To know and understand:

  • the Church's teaching on relationships and the nature and meaning of sexual love;
  • the Church's teaching on marriage and the importance of marriage and family life;
  • the centrality and importance of virtue in guiding human living and loving;
  • the physical and psychological changes that accompany puberty;
  • the facts about human reproduction, how love is expressed sexually and how sexual love plays an essential and sacred role in procreation;
  • how to manage fertility in a way which is compatible with their stage of life, their own values and commitments, including an understanding of the difference between natural family planning and artificial contraception;
  • how to keep themselves safe from sexually transmitted infections and how to avoid unintended pregnancy, including where to go for advice.


Inclusion and differentiated learning

We will ensure RSE is sensitive to the different needs of individual pupils in respect to pupils' different abilities, levels of maturity and personal circumstances; for example their own sexual orientation, faith or culture and is taught in a way that does not subject pupils to discrimination. Lessons will also help children to realise the nature and consequences of discrimination, teasing, bullying and aggressive behaviours (including cyber-bullying), use of prejudice-based language and how to respond and ask for help. These issues are also covered in our behaviour, safeguarding and inclusion policies. The governors are cognisant of their responsibilities under the Equalities Act 2010.

  • Content of RSE
  • Attitudes and values
  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Personal and social skills.
  • Programme/Resources

Teaching strategies will include:

  • establishing ground rules
  • distancing techniques
  • discussion
  • project learning
  • reflection
  • experiential
  • active
  • brainstorming
  • film & video
  • group work
  • role-play
  • trigger drawings
  • values clarification

Procedures for Policy Monitoring and Evaluation

It is the responsibility of the PSCHE/RSE Co-ordinator to oversee and organise the monitoring and evaluation of PSCHE/RSE, in line with whole-school practice on teaching and learning. This involves annual self-evaluation overseen by SLT.

The governors' curriculum committee is responsible for overseeing the review, organisation and revision of the Relationships and Sex Education Policy. Lesson observations, pupil, staff and parental feedback and other methods will be used to monitor and evaluate the RSE policy. These will assess the extent to which the aims of the policy have been met, and the effectiveness of lesson content and teaching strategies in promoting pupils' learning.

Parents and carers

We recognise that parents and carers are the primary educators of their children. As a Catholic school, we provide the principal means by which the Church assists parents and carers in educating their children. Therefore the school will support parents and carers by providing material to be shared with their children at home and workshops to help parents/carers to find out more

Parents have the right to withdraw their children from RSE except in those elements which are required by the National Curriculum science orders. Should parents wish to withdraw their children they are asked to notify the school by contacting the headteacher. The school will offer support by providing material for parents to help the children with their learning.
We believe that the controlled environment of the classroom is the safest place for this curriculum to be followed.

Balanced Curriculum

Whilst promoting Catholic values and virtues and teaching in accordance with the Church, we will ensure that pupils are given a balanced programme by providing an RSE programme that offers a range of viewpoints on issues. Pupils will also receive clear scientific information as well as covering the aspects of the law pertaining to RSE relating to forced-marriage, female genital mutilation, abortion, the age of consent and legislation relating to equality. Knowing about facts and enabling young people to explore differing viewpoints is not the same as promoting behaviour and is not incompatible with our school's promotion of Catholic teaching

We will ensure that pupils have access to the learning they need to stay safe, healthy and understand their rights as individuals.

Responsibility for teaching the programme

Responsibility for the specific relationships and sex education programme lays with all staff as they will be involved in developing the attitudes and values aspect of the RSE programme. Naturally, more specific instruction with lie with specialist subject teachers, e.g. science. Notwithstanding, all staff will be role models for pupils of good, healthy, wholesome relationships as between staff, other adults and pupils. They will be also contributing to the development of pupils' personal and social skills.

External Providers

On occasions the school will call upon the professional expertise of external providers, e.g. health professionals.

Other roles and responsibilities regarding RSE

The governing body is ever mindful of its responsibilities and will implement the following:

  • Draw up the RSE policy, in consultation with parents and teachers;
  • Ensure that the policy is available to parents;
  • Ensure that the policy is in accordance with other whole school policies, e.g., SEN, the ethos of the school and our Christian beliefs;
  • Ensure that parents know of their right to withdraw their children;
  • Establish a link governor to share in the monitoring and evaluation of the programme, including resources used;
  • Ensure that the policy provides proper and adequate coverage of relevant National Curriculum science topics and the setting of RSE within PSCHE.


The Headteacher takes overall delegated responsibility for the implementation of this policy and for liaison with the governing body, parents, the Archdiocese, and the LA and other appropriate agencies.

PSCHE/RSE Co-ordinator

The co-ordinator with the headteacher has a general responsibility for supporting other members of staff in the implementation of this policy and will provide a lead in the dissemination of the information relating to RSE and the provision of in-service training.

All Staff

RSE is a whole school issue. All teachers have a responsibility of care; as well as fostering academic progress. They should actively contribute to the guardianship and guidance of the physical, moral and spiritual well-being of their pupils. Teachers will be expected to teach RSE in accordance with the Catholic ethos of the school. Appropriate training will be made available for all staff teaching RSE.

Relationship to other policies and curriculum subjects

This RSE policy is to be delivered as part of the PSCHE framework. It includes guidelines about pupil safety and is compatible with the school's other policy documents (for example, Behaviour policy, Safeguarding Policy etc.)

Pupils with particular difficulties whether of a physical or intellectual nature will receive appropriately differentiated support in order to enable them to achieve mature knowledge, understanding and skills. Teaching methods will be adapted to meet the varying needs of this group of pupils.

Student's questions

The governors want to promote a healthy, positive atmosphere in which RSE can take place. They want to ensure that pupils can ask questions freely, be confident that their questions will be answered, and be sure that they will be free from bullying or harassment from other children and young people.

Controversial or Sensitive issues

There will always be sensitive or controversial issues in the field of RSE. These may be a matter of maturity, of personal involvement or experience of children, of disagreement with the official teaching of the Church, of illegal activity or other doubtful, dubious or harmful activity. The governors believe that children are best educated, protected from harm and exploitation by discussing such issues openly within the context of the RSE programme. The use of ground rules will help to create a supportive climate for discussion.

Some questions may raise issues which it would not be appropriate for teachers to answer during ordinary class time, e.g. where a child or young person's question hints at abuse, is deliberately tendentious or is of a personal nature. In such instances, staff will follow safeguarding procedures.

Confidentiality and advice

All governors, teachers, support staff, parents and pupils have access to this policy through the school website, as it relates to issues of advice and confidentiality.

All lessons, especially those in the RSE programme, will have the best interests of pupils at heart, enabling them to grow in knowledge and understanding of relationships and sex, developing appropriate personal and social skills and becoming appreciative of the values and attitudes which underpin the Christian understanding of what it means to be fully human.

Pupils will be encouraged to talk to their parents/carers about the issues which are discussed in the programme. Teachers will always help pupils facing personal difficulties, in line with the school's pastoral care policy and safeguarding guidelines.