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Our guest blogger from the Family Stability Network (FASTN) explains how important work has helped frame the teaching of the new RSE subject into the wider context of healthy relationships for all

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by Catherine Hine, Chief Executive, fastn

Relationships are being formed everyday. For those in childhood unable to witness and experience positive healthy, dependable, nurturing relationships, making up for lost time can actually take a lifetime.

From September, Relationships Education becomes a compulsory part of the curriculum in primary schools in England. And Relationships and Sex Education become mandatory in English secondary schools.

It is being celebrated today, June 25 as #RSEDay.

Given the pressures created by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is perhaps not surprising that the Department for Education has written to schools to set the full implementation date as ‘no later than the start of the summer term 2021.’

This is a pragmatic move. It does not diminish a long-awaited breakthrough that means schools will start to offer formal support to the relationship learning that is going on all the time in families, amongst friends and across society.

The disruption and pain caused by the pandemic may be shifting attitudes and re-ordering priorities for families.

For instance, a poll of 250,000 parents carried out by Parentkind (link: https://www.parentkind.org.uk/News/Major-new-Parentkind-research---over-a-quarter-of-a-million-parents-have-a-say-on-school-closures-and-coronavirus-fears) found that 48 per cent were concerned about the impact of ‘My child not seeing their friends or socialising.’

An in-depth survey of parents carried out by Survation for Paretntkind and fastn today (June 25) reveals that there is a real desire amongst parents for children to be supported in school to develop positive relationships with family and friends, and to develop the kind of relationships that will support them in the workplace in later life.

Parents’ experience of home-schooling and disrupted family lives has created an increased realisation that family relationships matter and have to be worked at.

The 12 Principles the 12 Principles of Relationships Excellence (link: https://www.fastn.org/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=c6bc6810-ed4c-4e4a-951a-1bb3ce2551ae ) draws on the research of a wide range of partners including Tavistock Relationships to support teachers and parents in making the most of these new opportunities.

Tavistock Relationships ‘Building Relationships for Stronger Families’ programme is reflective of a similar realisation.

What goes on in families matters. Just as parents may need support within relationships, and to strengthen parenting skills, children need input beyond the family to develop relationships skills for life.

Relationships matter, and the good news is that parents and schools recognise it.

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