To nurture the skills of resilience is key to providing young people with the ability to cope with stress, adversity, failure and challenges. Resilience is evident when young people have a greater ability to ‘bounce back’ when faced with difficulties and achieve positive outcomes.
Resilience supports the individual to cope with changes in their bodies and understand how their bodies work. These changes are physical, emotional and social and individuals can experience puberty at different ages.
The NHS advise that children are experiencing puberty as early as 8 for girls and 9 for boys and the statutory guidance refers to teaching about puberty before it happens. Therefore the PSHE Association feels that Year 5 should the latest time at which the subject should be addressed by schools.
Puberty including menstruation should be covered in Health Education and should, as far as possible, be addressed before onset. This should ensure male and female pupils are prepared for changes they and their peers will experience.
The onset of menstruation can be confusing or even alarming for girls if they are not prepared. Pupils should be taught key facts about the menstrual cycle including what is an average period, range of menstrual products and the implications for emotional and physical health. In addition to curriculum content, schools should also make adequate and sensitive arrangements to help girls prepare for and manage menstruation including with requests for menstrual products. Schools will need to consider the needs of their cohort of pupils in designing this content. Schools should also consider putting bins in each toilet at school so that menstruators are not singled out.
Key facts about puberty and the changing adolescent body, particularly from age 9 through to age 11, including physical and emotional changes.
About menstrual wellbeing including the key facts about the menstrual cycle.
Key facts about puberty, the changing adolescent body and menstrual wellbeing.
The main changes which take place in males and females, and the implications for emotional and physical health.
For clarity, teaching about the changes experienced during puberty is part of the National Science Curriculum and all pupils in maintained schools must therefore be able to access this learning; this learning can then be built upon in SRE. The 2015 National Curriculum for Year 5 Science includes bodily changes, saying that: ‘Pupils should be taught to describe the changes as humans develop to old age’ – which may well be interpreted as covering puberty.
Parents have the right to withdraw their children from lessons about puberty and sex where these form part of SRE, but not from lessons that form part of the national science curriculum.
Some schools teach puberty in same sex classes or mixed classes. Please check your school policy prior to teaching this subject.
Certain religions will expect parents to discuss puberty with their children as there are rules associated with puberty – for example Islam states that once a girl has her first period or a boy has had his first ejaculation they are regarded as fully accountable to Allah. There are also rules about how the girls should behave, what to wear etc. Both boys and girls are required to follow certain hygiene rules once they reach puberty. We would therefore advise that schools take into account their pupils religious background as part of their teaching of the subject.
Source: PSHE Association