Mental health on the curriculum in England

The focus on mental health and wellbeing on the national curriculum in England is changing.

In 2019, the government announced the introduction of a new compulsory subject – Relationships, Health and Sex Education, or RSHE.

RSHE in primary schools

In primary schools, RSHE may be known as RHE, as sex education is not compulsory until secondary school. However, some primary schools may choose to include this as part of their lessons.

The introduction of RSHE as a subject becomes compulsory from September 2020. However, schools were encouraged by the government to adopt the new curriculum from September 2019 onwards, so many schools will already be teaching the new subject.

The subject is split into two sections: physical health and mental wellbeing and relationships.

Within these two sections, there are a number of different topics that pupils should have learnt about by the end of primary school.

Physical health and mental wellbeing

This part of RSHE covers:

  • Mental wellbeing, which teaches children about the importance of mental health, how to talk about their feelings and where to seek help
  • Internet safety and harms, which focuses on topics like cyberbullying, rationing time spent online and how to behave online
  • Healthy eating
  • Drugs, alcohol and tobacco
  • Health and prevention, which touches on the importance of good sleep to mental wellbeing
  • Basic first aid
  • Changing adolescent body, which covers the emotional changes children may experience as they grow

See the full breakdown on the English government’s website.

Relationships

This part of RSHE covers:

  • Families and people who care for me, which includes the characteristics of healthy family life and how to ask for help if family life is making them feel unhappy or unsafe
  • Caring friendships, where pupils will learn about how to create and maintain healthy friendships and how to resolve issues with friends
  • Respectful relationships, focusing on the importance of respecting others even if they come from different backgrounds, as well as learning about bullying
  • Online relationships, including the risks of talking to people anonymously on the internet, and how to treat people online
  • Being safe, which teaches children about consent, boundaries and how to report it if they feel unsafe around an adult

See the full breakdown on the English government’s website.

Resources

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BBC Teach’s health and wellbeing videos for ages 5 to 7

BBC Teach’s health and wellbeing videos for ages 5 to 7

Four series of videos, suitable for use in health and wellbeing education lessons with primary...

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Tools for managing emotions

Tools for managing emotions

These tools are designed to help children understand and manage their emotions and feelings, and...

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Emotional Check-in

Emotional Check-in

This written resource supports children and young people not only express their feelings but...

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Being brave and becoming resilient – YoungMinds & Beano

Being brave and becoming resilient – YoungMinds & Beano

This lesson introduces children aged 3 to 11 to the concept of resilience and what it means to be...

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