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Poppy's Story

About these teaching resources for Key Stage 2 PSHE lessons

The statutory RSHE guidance does not explicitly refer to “divorce”, although there are references to children’s rights, home circumstances and family breakdown. Much of the focus of the guidance is on forming healthy relationships, but there is nothing on what ‘healthy’ might look like in the context of parental separation. The parents of approximately 280,000 children separate each year, and around 3.5 million children now live in families where the parents are no longer together.

Prof. Anne Barlow, with Dr Jan Ewing, led an interdisciplinary research study on healthy relationships across the life course (The HeaRT Project), with funding from the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health. The research  found a strong appetite for teaching - in primary and secondary schools - about children’s rights and the support available to children if parents separate. However, up until now, appropriate resources have been absent. The issue is incredibly sensitive, and while many teachers are already skilled at handling difficult topics regarding parental separation, there is an observed “gap in teaching”. Working with The National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC) and  The National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS), Jan Ewing has collaborated with LifeWise, a leading PSHE education provider, to address this gap.  

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.

The lesson plans produced through the collaboration promote safe, recognised and approved guidance for teachers to navigate the tricky topic of separation and divorce. Pupils learn to recognise, normalise and cope with complex emotions and where to seek support safely. In addition, pupils learn about their rights under Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to information, consultation, and, if needed, representation when parents separate. As part of the collaboration, the team created the characters Poppy, aged 8 and Joe, aged 12, whose parents have separated. Through a Poppy and Joe video, various scenarios and activities, pupils can safely explore the range of emotions experienced when parents separate. 

The collaboration includes four age-appropriate animated lessons, each with a supporting teacher's guide and activities to use in the classroom. Follow the links below to play the lessons and download the teacher’s guides. 

If you want more information about LifeWise and its PSHE curriculum, please email the team at or call them on 0208 0641838.

The team have also created an accompanying infographic to reinforce learning from the lessons. Laminated A3 copies of the infographic for classroom walls are available free of charge by emailing

Poppy's Story

This video outlines the experiences of Poppy when her parents separate