Welcome to the material within the national RSHP resource that supports work with learners with complex additional support needs

The content in the thematic units offered here is intended for educators, parents and carers providing Relationship, Sexual Health and Parenthood education for learners with complex additional support needs. They are learners who, in terms of Curriculum for Excellence, are learning at what is described as pre-Early Level.

What are complex additional support needs?

A child or young person who has additional support needs arising from one or more complex factors or multiple factors (needs that are likely to continue for more than a year) is deemed to have complex needs. A rigorous, clearly bounded and universally accepted definition is extremely difficult to articulate because of the many factors and the impact of specific contexts in which the learner will live. For that reason we use a working description rather than a definition of children and young people with complex additional support needs.

Understanding the profile of learners

When supporting learners with complex additional support needs to access their RSHP education it is important for practitioners to take account of the additional physical, communicative, sensory and cognitive barriers to learning which learners may experience. For example, some learners may have limited or no verbal language. Practitioners will need to employ a range of strategies to support and enable understanding and communication such as use of on-body and/or manual signing, sensory cues, objects of reference, song signifiers and visual supports such as photographs and symbols to enable learners to understand and respond.

It is likely that the resources provided here will need to be further tailored to the individual support needs of each learner. In order to optimise the learning environment profiling the support needs and sensory profile of learners is essential. Simple profiling tools such as the one exemplified here are useful. It should be noted however that some learners will require specialist assessment and support of staff from within the local authority or Allied Health Professionals as outlined in the Getting It Right For Every Child framework.

More information about learners with complex learning needs who are specifically working at the pre-Early level/Milestones level is available here Milestones: Supporting learners with complex additional support needs

A rights-based approach

Learning about relationships, sexual health and parenthood is the right of every child and young person. The teaching and learning resources in this resource support our shared efforts as adults and duty-bearers, in the context of the recent incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), to acknowledge the rights of every child.

Links between home and school/college

It is important for learners that there is a close relationship between school (or college) and home when it comes to RSHP education. This will ensure everyone works together to promote independence, personal safety and wellbeing for every child and young person.

More about how the resources are organised

There are 9 thematic units. In each, you will find the main booklet which details the approach to learning in each theme. You will also find supporting PowerPoints or activities as detailed in the booklet. Then, you will find other content created by external providers that might support your work. The approaches and activities in each of the units are suggestions only, there is a need to carefully plan and personalise learning experiences.

In terms of the PowerPoints or props provided, these are offered to help build your approach. You may want to make your own, using a communication system your learner knows. You may need to use images/photographs that are particular to the learner. You may want to use some of the images curated here to build supporting material: IMAGES – RSHP (You will see that you can request access to these images.)

1. My body

2. Puberty

3. Personal hygiene

4. Gender

5. Relationships

6. Personal Space and Boundaries 

7. Masturbation

8. Consent

9. Pregnancy and Parenthood