The WCCEH Beacon project on healthy relationship transitions (The ‘HeaRE’ and ‘HeaRT’ Project) led by Prof. Anne Barlow identified the need to extend relationship education on parental separation to primary schools. It found a strong appetite amongst young people, relationship professionals and teachers to cover this sensitive topic in primary schools but an absence of teaching resources. This left teachers feeling ill-equipped to support affected pupils and pupils ill-served.
With funding from an Enhanced Research Award, Dr Jan Ewing, the Research Fellow on the Beacon project, has collaborated with The National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) and The National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC) to use the project’s findings to design much-needed teaching resources on parental separation for use in Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) teaching in primary schools. The resource, Rosie’s story: What happens if families change? uses a rights-based approach to provide a safe environment to explore a life transition that many children experience. It has been awarded the prestigious quality mark approval of the PSHE Association. It has been taken up enthusiastically by a number of schools, with one Assistant Head Teacher commending the ‘excellent resources… to support our delivery of the difficult topic of changes in family relationships’ and another observing that the resource ‘has come at exactly the right time’.
Given the strong emphasis on children’s rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in the new Curriculum for Wales, with the support of the Welsh Government, Rosie’s Story has been adapted and translated for use in Welsh schools. The resources have been launched recently on Hwb. Hwb is Welsh Government’s bilingual, digital service for maintained schools to support teaching and learning through the Curriculum for Wales.
To maximise impact and to fill the gaps highlighted by the research, the team collaborated separately with LifeWise, a leading PSHE education provider working with over 3000 schools to produce lesson plans, Poppy’s Story. LifeWise specialises in developing animated, multi-sensory lessons to teach children crucial life skills and empower them to navigate today’s world. The LifeWise PSHE curriculum tackles some of the most challenging issues affecting children, from mental health and well-being to grief and loss. LifeWise launched the lessons in November 2022.
Teaching for each set of lesson plans is reinforced by an infographic for classroom walls.