Relationship, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education in early years settings

A new approach to RSHPE which has a particular focus on early protective messages has been tested out in West Dunbartonshire ELC settings and is set to be rolled out across the authority.

The importance of good quality RSHPE delivered consistently from an early age with support to parents on this topic has been highlighted by the Scottish Government in a number of key strategies such as the national Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People Strategy and the National Parenting Strategy. Local and regional consultation on RSPHE has re-affirmed that parents and carers would welcome support in this area.

What is the early year’s RSHPE approach?

The aim was to equipearly years staff with the information and tools needed to provide age appropriate consistent approaches to growing up and relationship education and included:

  • agreed use of language/terminology (including messages for keeping children safe),
  • ability to recognise opportunities for teachable moments
  • support to parent and carers around this topic area.

In line with good practice the trainers were from NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde sexual health improvement team who already deliver the comprehensive and well established RSHPE training for primary and secondary schools.

How did this work in practice?

A key element of the approach was to actively involve parents and carers to ensure that they understood the new approach, the language used and the context in which it is being delivered. The aim was to support parents/carers to reinforce the approach in the home as a core part of their parenting skills.

Information stalls were provided to raise awareness of the approach supported by parent workshops (sexual health). The workshops offered practical support & tips on various topics such as media influences; age and stage appropriateness; answering difficult questions; gender stereotypes and internet safety.

A resource to support the approach included a booklet, entitled ‘My Body belongs to me’ (adapted from Glasgow City HSCP) and was available for both staff and parents/carers.

Feedback from parents

  • I like the idea of the books and dolls just being placed around for them to use. I thought it would have been a lesson like the school but it’s not. It’s just making it normal for them
  • You don’t realise how important this stuff is until it’s explained to you. I’ve made sure I’m using the same language at home and I’m feeling more relaxed about talking about relationships.

The key ethos of this approach was the collaboration between West Dunbartonshire Education, Attainment and Learning strategic area, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde sexual health team and West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership alongside the parents involved.

Additionally the work is an integral part of the Community Planning Children’s Service Planning with a key focus on parenting and nurturing workstreams.

More information on involving parents and parenting work across NHSGGC can be found at: