Principles developed for school leaders to equip young people to develop safe, healthy and dependable relationships.

The Principles of excellence in relationships education created by leading relationship and educational experts launched today, 27th September 2021, to enable schools to recognise and deliver excellent relationships education. The Principles help schools equip our young people for the here and now and raise their relationship aspiration for the future to enable them to thrive and reach their relationship potential, whatever this may mean for them.

The Principles outline what it takes for school leaders to help young people achieve healthy relationships through every aspect of school life and support the now compulsory Relationship Sex and Health Education part of the national curriculum.

Mary Taylor, Head of Programmes, Family Links the Centre for Emotional Health said, "Family Links the Centre for Emotional Health is delighted to have been a key player in developing the Principles of Excellence in Relationships Education and in shifting the narrative around the importance of relationships in schools.

"We are pleased to be working to support this initiative in schools so that all our children can thrive in their lives and in their learning. With a focus on relationships, a whole school approach to emotional health and wellbeing supports all adults and children in the school community to flourish. We know that relationships are modelled through daily interactions. The Relationships Education curriculum is supported by a focus on creating an enabling environment that promotes everyone’s emotional health."

Aidan Jones, Chief Executive at leading relationships charity Relate, said, "Relationships are central to happiness and physical and mental health throughout our lives. Equipping children and young people with the knowledge and skills to develop strong relationships must be a priority in government and beyond.

"For schools, putting the importance of healthy relationships at the heart of everything they do can improve the wellbeing of the whole school community. A safe environment with open communication is the foundation for safeguarding pupils, helping to model and realise healthier relationships throughout life."

Parentkind CEO John Jolly said, "We are delighted to have worked with Fastn on The Principles of excellence in relationships education. Our research shows that parents want to participate in their child's education, and in areas such as this it is crucial that homes and schools work together.

"This need has now been recognised by government and statutory guidance requires schools to consult parents when developing and reviewing their RSHE policy. Now is an ideal time to introduce The Principles to ensure that the partnership between parents and schools is as strong as possible, which will benefit children in developing healthy relationships."

Catherine Hine, parent and CEO of Fastn said,

We know relationship learning and experience is vital to pupil and school outcomes so we urge school leaders to use the Principles of excellence in relationships education to equip our young people with the skills to develop, healthy, dependable relationships.

Penny Mansfield CBE, co-director of OnePlusOne, said: "The ability to cultivate relationships is vital to healthy development in the early years, adolescence, and throughout life. Young people who are relationally capable do better at school and in further education, thrive in the workplace, form stronger partnerships, and engage more with general society. Most importantly, in the context of the last 18 months, relationally capable individuals flourish in the face of adversity.

"In helping to create the Principles of excellence in relationships education, we have used our 50 years of experience in relationship research. It’s great to see so many organisations now supporting them. I urge anybody involved in offering relationships education to ensure these Principles are embedded into their approach. By doing so, we can equip today’s young people with the relational capability skills they will need throughout their lives."

Relationships matter: at their best they help us feel happy, healthy and secure. They can protect us from the big challenges many of us experience, including mental and physical ill health and poverty. With the right support in place, meaningful relationships education is an opportunity for children and young people to develop the knowledge and skills they need to have healthy and reliable relationships throughout their lives.

The Harvard Centre for Early Childhood Development research illustrates that it is only by witnessing and experiencing these relationships can children and young people identify and practice healthy and reliable relationships in their own lives. This helps them learn to understand and regulate their emotions, behaving more appropriately. They can become more resilient and more supportive, empathetic and respectful with one another. And with better relationships with peers and teachers, they can be more receptive learners, improving their future life chances.

Notes to editors

About the Principles of excellence in relationships education

There are 12 Principles.

  1. Educators feel supported, knowledgeable and confident to deliver relationships and sex education and role model healthy and reliable relationships.
  2. Leaders champion and demonstrate a commitment to meaningful relationships learning and to high quality relationship education, which includes sex education.
  3. Pupils have opportunities to understand healthy and reliable relationships through experiencing them.
  4. Parents and staff role model positive relationships and honest communication.
  5. An active relationships education policy is at the core of the school’s culture and ethos.
  6. A relationships education curriculum is the basis of personal, social and health education and crosses the wider curriculum.
  7. The relationships education curriculum is relevant to the child or young person and prepares them for the community and society they live in.
  8. The policy and curriculum aim to improve relationships across the school community.
  9. School practice reflects understanding of Public Sector Equality Duty, empathises with and accommodates diverse family needs, circumstances and structures, and pupils of all identities.
  10. The school listens to and values pupils’ views, supporting them to recognise unhealthy relationships and to develop their own relationship ambitions.
  11. The school approaches behaviour as the communication of feelings and needs.
  12. Progress is measured towards a better understanding of emotions and relationships for all.

The Principles have been developed in collaboration with twenty leading relationship and educational experts, a reflective practice aid will also be available to support school and youth leaders.

Download the 12 Principles of excellence in relationships education. 

For interviews with Catherine Hine, parent and CEO of Fastn, and Julie Nash, Fastn trustee and former Headteacher and Ofsted inspector please contact Claire Barry [email protected] 07939 844614

Our partners

The organisations that helped us develop the Principles are:

About Fastn

At Fastn we are committed to helping society form, value and aim for family relationships which are healthy and dependable.