by Jan Lever, 24 January, 2020


What do Primary Schools in England have to teach for statutory Relationships Education, Sex Education and Health Education
from September 2020?

What can parents withdraw their children from?
What is Jigsaw PSHE’s position?


A Summary

Firstly, it is important that schools read the DfE RSHE guidance for themselves and make decisions for their own schools, being clear about their educational rationale.

This summary from Jigsaw is our interpretation of the DfE guidance to help schools understand the implications and decisions they need to make well ahead of September 2020 regarding curriculum content and parental withdrawal.

What is Statutory?

A. Relationships Education is statutory.

This consists of x32 outcomes (DFE guidance pages 20-21) that pupils should know ‘by the end of primary school’. The outcomes are not broken down into what should be taught when, so schools need to decide how to build these into a spiral, age-appropriate scheme of work.

Relationships Education can include LGBT relationships, but schools need to consider 4 important aspects of the guidance (page 15):

  1. “Schools should ensure that the needs of all pupils are appropriately met, and that all pupils understand the importance of equality and respect.
  2. Schools must ensure that they comply with the relevant provisions of the Equality Act 2010 … under which sexual orientation and gender reassignment are amongst the protected characteristics’
  3. We expect all pupils to have been taught LGBT content at a timely point as part of this area of the curriculum
  4. At the point at which schools consider it appropriate to teach their pupils about LGBT, they should ensure this content is fully integrated into their programmes of study for this area … rather than delivered as a stand-alone unit or lesson”

This means primary schools need to consider their approach to LGBT relationships and be clear about their approach and the educational rationale for this, what they teach when etc.

Parents do NOT have the right to withdraw their children from Relationships Education.

Jigsaw stands firmly by its philosophy that ALL children should be valued and included and hence includes images of many different family compositions in lessons on family relationships. See our article: Jigsaw’s approach to LGBT Relationships.

B. Health Education is statutory.

This consists of x35 outcomes (DfE guidance pages 32-35) that pupils should know ‘by the end of primary school’. Again, schools will need to decide how to build these into a spiral, age-appropriate scheme of work.

NB: The ‘Changing adolescent body’ section (page 35) has 2 outcomes relating to understanding puberty. PUBERTY WORK IS STATUTORY.

What is Not Statutory?

C. Sex Education is NOT statutory

Sex Education at Primary phase is NOT statutory. “Sex Education is not compulsory in primary schools” although, “the Department continues to recommend…that all primary schools should have a sex education programme tailored to the age and the physical and emotional maturity of the pupils” (DfE guidance page 23)

This means schools need to:

1. Decide what is meant by Sex Education

2. If they are going to deliver it at all, and if so, what should be included and under which curriculum banner?

After scrutinising the guidance, Jigsaw concludes that Sex Education in primary schools consists of ‘human reproduction’ as puberty work is now included in statutory Health Education.

So, if schools decide that Sex Education means ‘Human Reproduction’ and that they will teach this, further decisions need to be made:

a) What shall we teach when?  (Jigsaw does this in Years 4, 5 and 6)
How shall we do it?
What resources shall we use?

b) Shall we teach this within RSHE/PSHE or within NC Science and what are the implications either way?

    • If we teach this within RSHE/PSHE parents will have the right to withdraw their children from these lessons. (DfE guidance page 17 Para. 41)
      Schools will need to inform parents of this right, consult with them, as well as explain what they intend to teach. Some children may therefore not receive this teaching before they go to secondary school. Schools will need to decide how they teach this and could use the Jigsaw “Changing Me” lessons which would make it easy to identify which lessons the parental ‘right to withdraw’ applies to (see the grids below). Schools will need to be clear on the rationale behind their decisions.
    • Year 5 NC Science offers the opportunity to teach reproduction in a mammal.
      Parents do NOT have the right to withdraw from NC Science.
      Schools can decide how they will teach this.
      They could use the Jigsaw “Changing Me” lessons to do so.

The DfE guidance includes further requirements for assessment, SEND provision, religion and belief, engaging parents, governor responsibilities etc.

How Jigsaw can help

This summary is intended to help schools understand the RSHE statutory curriculum content and some of the decisions they will need to make well ahead of September 2020.

Jigsaw, the mindful approach to PSHE, when taught well, covers all statutory requirements within a whole-school PSHE Programme, spiralling the learning in an age-appropriate way and adopting a whole-school approach for ages 3-16.

Jigsaw also offers support through:

• Mapping document showing just where each statutory outcome is covered
• Explanatory leaflets for parents
• Training PowerPoints for staff
• Training opportunities
• Mentoring
• Community Area with FREE ongoing support


So, where exactly does Jigsaw teach Puberty and Human reproduction in 3-11?

The ‘Changing Me’ Puzzle contains the ‘explicit’ work on these aspects. However, Jigsaw is a holistic programme that supports children’s personal development, sense of identity and self-respect throughout, with the Relationships Puzzle offering more specific aspects of statutory Relationships Education.

The whole Jigsaw Programme more than fulfils all the statutory RSHE requirements.

Schools do need to own this and use their discretion as to the decisions necessary regarding Sex Education as outlined above.

Puberty and Human Reproduction in Jigsaw 3-11 article grid 1

Puberty and Human Reproduction in Jigsaw 3-11 article grid 2


The grids show a brief summary of the “Changing Me” Puzzle (unit) in Jigsaw with respect to what is taught when, relating to Puberty and Human Reproduction. As stated before, the puberty work in Jigsaw fulfils the requirements that sit under the ‘Changing Adolescent Body’ strand of statutory Health Education, and parents cannot withdraw their children from this.

As the paper outlines, schools need to use their own discretion as to whether or not they teach Sex Education, how they define this and which curriculum area hosts this i.e. do we consider Sex Education to mean Human Reproduction, and if so shall we teach this at all, in Science or in PSHE?

Jigsaw’s position has been stated in this paper. The content in red on the grid above could be deemed as ‘Human Reproduction’ and if this is taught in PSHE, parents could request their children are withdrawn from all or part of these lessons.

If taught in Science (perhaps using Jigsaw Changing Me lessons) parents cannot exercise their right to withdraw.


Jigsaw’s rationale for what is taught when in Jigsaw

We believe that knowledge empowers and protects children as long as it is age-appropriate. At secondary school Sex Education is statutory and we believe that primary schools should prepare children with accurate knowledge about puberty and human reproduction before they transfer to secondary school.

Correct terminology for body parts is introduced early to normalise this biological vocabulary and to support safeguarding. These words are not used in isolation but always in conjunction, ensuring children know these are private parts of their bodies.

Puberty is introduced gently in Y3 because some girls may start their periods this early and it is necessary to prepare them for this, so they aren’t scared or worried.

Conception is introduced age-appropriately in Y4 in the context of understanding why our bodies change during puberty.

Understanding of Human Reproduction, conception and puberty is built upon in Year 5 and then puberty, conception and childbirth is age-appropriately covered in Y6.

How to contact us

Jigsaw, the mindful approach to PSHE
+44 (0)1202 377193


More about the Jigsaw Scheme of Work


Download and Keep the PDF