13. What does the guidance say about puberty?

What does the new Relationships Education (RE), Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education Statutory guidance say about puberty?

As you are probably aware there is new government statutory guidance on Relationships Education (RE), Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education. This covers everything that schools should teach about relationships and health, including puberty, one of Loudmouth’s favourite topics!

So, what does the guidance say?

It states that teaching should ensure that all pupils are prepared for changes they and their peers will experience and that as far as possible, puberty should be addressed before it starts.

The guidance says that by the end of primary school pupils should know key facts about puberty and the changing adolescent body. Teaching about the impact of puberty should carry on in secondary school, including looking at the physical and emotional changes which take place at this time and their impact on young people’s wider health, including emotional health and wellbeing.

As with all topics detailed in the guidance, the RE and RSE provisions on puberty should complement existing curriculum.

The guidance includes a specific section on menstruation; emphasising that the start of menstruation can be confusing or even alarming for girls if they are not prepared…so we need to make sure they are prepared!

Pupils should be taught key facts about the menstrual cycle including what is an average period, the range of menstrual products available and the implications for physical and emotional health. Schools should also make adequate and sensitive arrangements to help girls prepare for and manage menstruation including with requests for menstrual products.

What Loudmouth is doing? (That might help you too)

Here at Loudmouth, we love talking about puberty! We use theatre in education to address puberty in a fun and engaging way with the young people.

My Mate Fancies You is Loudmouth’s long running programme for 9-12 years old. It is used in both primary and secondary schools. It directly addresses the guidance by incorporating the key facts about puberty and the changing adolescent body, including physical and emotional changes, the menstrual cycle including what is an average period, a range of menstrual products and the implications for emotional and physical health.

The programme is a fun and engaging way for children to learn about puberty. The performance follows two children as they grow up from 10 – 14 and all the physical and emotional changes they go through – all jammed into a 40 minute play!! The play and workshop that follow look in detail at these changes and the transition of moving to secondary school. The aim of the programme is to support children to be prepared for the changes that adolescence brings.

Loudmouth provides access to over 100 lesson plans and interactive resources to use on a range of PSHE topics to support your curriculum and prepare and follow up the Loudmouth visit. Schools will also receive updates on PSHE with regular ideas and advice on learning objectives. Loudmouth can also support with staff training and consultancy on PSHE.

One Headteacher commented: “Loudmouth’s My Mate Fancies You session is possibly the most important afternoon these children have. It is a safe insight into puberty and prepares them for secondary school.”

Extra tips/facts/ideas

SO… hopefully you feel a little clearer on what the guidance says about puberty! And you know a lot more about how Loudmouth programmes can help you address puberty in your school.

Now we would LOVE to share with you a few more ideas, tips and information.

Loudmouth have a free Puberty Card Game lesson plan that can be used to introduce or consolidate key knowledge about the physical changes that take place during puberty.

There are a wide range of period products available, including reusable products such as a menstrual cup and reusable pads. You could bring in a selection of period products and have students discuss the pros and cons of each, in order to help them make informed decisions for their own bodies.

The NHS has urged adults to use correct names for parts of the body in order to protect children and to help to make information clear (rather than confusing).

Puberty can be a difficult and confusing time for trans young people. Make sure your policies and procedures for RE and RSE cover trans people, including what happens if someone transitions when part of your educational institute. Gendered Intelligence offer top tips for supporting trans young people.

We will be tackling other areas of the guidance in our series of blog posts which provide further support regarding the new guidance. Check them out on our website.

Finally, make sure you check out our information on the Roadmap to Statutory RSE, created by the Sex Education Forum and PSHE Association.

What people say

Take a look at how we’ve helped others

Brilliant acting and interaction with the children. The play itself covered puberty in an open, realistic and humorous way which forms a terrific basis for future discussion with the teacher and each other. So much depends on the enthusiasm of the actors and I feel that we were very lucky to have such a talented pair, not only to perform, but to lead the discussions afterwards. They were able to relate to the children without any embarrassment. SUPERB!!

Governor/Teacher

Compared to other companies we have had covering the same content, the actors were more flexible and accommodating to the children’s individual needs. Through their answers and questions, the children were demonstrating a higher level of understanding, empathy and personal safety.

Safeguarding Lead