by Web Manager, 28 July, 2020

Jigsaw‘s approach to FGM and sensitive issues (Primary)

Jigsaw PSHE and teaching about domestic violence, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, FGM, and breast ironing.

Jigsaw has made a conscious decision to not cover these concepts discretely, in the universal teaching programme for primary schools, particularly using these terms. That’s not to say that children won’t be experiencing them, and of course we want to protect children and inform them to prevent these things happening to them.

However, we are also aware that raising these issues could cause fear in children whose lives are not touched by such horrors.

So, at primary, we focus, in the universal Jigsaw Programme, on healthy relationships, what to do if you’re worried about something, your rights as a child, personal space, body privacy and who can help us, and so on. Through this we are building their ability and confidence to speak out when they feel hurt or unsafe. The DfE guidance (2019) for Relationships, Health and Sex Education states that these topics should be taught explicitly in secondary school, and the Jigsaw 11-16 Programmes does this.

The DfE Guidance (2019) states that in Primary School;

62. Through Relationships Education (and RSE), schools should teach pupils the knowledge they need to recognise and to report abuse, including emotional, physical and sexual abuse. In primary schools, this can be delivered by focusing on boundaries and privacy, ensuring young people understand that they have rights over their own bodies.

It goes on to specifically add under ‘Families and People who Care for Me’, that pupils should be taught:

  • how to recognise if family relationships are making them feel unhappy or unsafe, and how to seek help or advice from others if needed.

and under ‘Being Safe’;

  • that each person’s body belongs to them, and the differences between appropriate and inappropriate or unsafe physical, and other, contact.
  • how to recognise and report feelings of being unsafe or feeling bad about any adult.
  • how to ask for advice or help for themselves or others, and to keep trying until they are heard.
  • how to report concerns or abuse, and the vocabulary and confidence needed to do so.
  • where to get advice e.g. family, school and/or other sources.

Children are taught about privacy in Jigsaw lessons from ages 6-7 upwards, and which parts of their bodies are private, which can help children to express more easily if someone else is taking an interest in their bodies that makes them feel uncomfortable. There are also numerous opportunities for children to talk about themselves safely in the classroom – during circle times – or to a trusted adult, about anything they might be worried about or have questions about. Children are reminded about this in all Jigsaw lessons as this can form part of the Jigsaw Charter.

In essence, teaching about safety and relationships as part of PSHE (and particularly RSHE) contributes to how schools approach the safeguarding of pupils. It helps them to recognise when they and others are at risk and equips them with the skills, strategies and language they need to take appropriate action. This is crucial to fulfilling statutory duties in relation to safeguarding pupils as well as to meeting Ofsted expectations, and is reflected through all the Puzzles (units) in Jigsaw, but especially in Healthy Me, Relationships and Changing Me.

Changing Me lessons

In this Puzzle, children are given the correct vocabulary to describe their external body parts from age 5-6 upwards, and through this we model ways in which we can talk about parts of our bodies in an open and factual way. By creating a safe, open environment throughout PSHE lessons we can support children in a range of ways both in and out of the classroom. We are able to reiterate to children through the school that we all have the right to have a natural and healthy body that no-one else has the right to hurt or change, and the right to get help to heal us it when it is causing us pain. Lessons in Changing Me can be used to support specific work on FGM if schools wish to deliver targeted work in this area, especially in KS2 where in some the lessons explain the function of each part of the female reproductive organs and other parts of the body.

The table below shows a range of different lessons within Jigsaw that cover safeguarding from a child’s perspective – teaching about keeping themselves (and others) safe while still enjoying the world and all it has to offer. These lessons can be used to explore FGM-related discussions in particular, depending on the age and stage of development of the children. You will find more information and teaching ideas more specifically about FGM etc in the Jigsaw 3-11 Community Area, even though discrete lessons on these issues are not included in ages 3-11 lessons in the universal Jigsaw Programme.

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School responsibility

The designated safeguarding lead should be aware of the guidance that is available in respect of female genital mutilation (FGM) and should be vigilant to the risk of it being practised. Inspectors should be also alert to this when considering a school’s safeguarding arrangements and, where appropriate, ask questions of designated staff such as:

  • how alert are staff to the possible signs that a child has been subject to female genital mutilation or is at risk of being abused through it; what sort of training have they had?
  • has the school taken timely and appropriate action in respect of concerns about particular children?

Government-produced guidance can be found here: (updated on 4th February 2019). Please ensure that your school is aware of and is following the current guidance. Here is an excerpt from the guidance on FGM and schools.

FGM mandatory reporting duty

FGM comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs. It is illegal in the UK and a form of child abuse with long- lasting harmful consequences. Section 5B of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (as inserted by section 74 of the Serious Crime Act 2015) places a statutory duty upon teachers along with regulated health and social care professionals in England and Wales, to report to the police where they discover (either through disclosure by the victim or visual evidence) that FGM appears to have been carried out on a girl under 18. Those failing to report such cases will face disciplinary sanctions. It will be rare for teachers to see visual evidence, and they should not be examining pupils, but the same definition of what is meant by “to discover that an act of FGM appears to have been carried out” is used for all professionals to whom this mandatory reporting duty applies. Information on when and how to make a report can be found at Mandatory reporting of female genital mutilation procedural information (updated January 2020)

Teachers must personally report to the police cases where they discover that an act of FGM appears to have been carried out. Unless the teacher has a good reason not to, they should also still consider and discuss any such case with the school or college’s designated safeguarding lead and involve children’s social care as appropriate. The duty does not apply in relation to at risk or suspected cases (i.e. where the teacher does not discover that an act of FGM appears to have been carried out, either through disclosure by the victim or visual evidence) or in cases where the woman is 18 or over. In these cases, teachers should follow local safeguarding procedures. The following is a useful summary of the FGM mandatory reporting duty: FGM Fact Sheet.

The DfE 2019 Guidance on Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education referred to in this document is found here: Relationships_and_Sex_Education__RSE__and_Health_Education.pdf


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