What is Relationship and Sex Education?
The Government’s definition is this:
“It is lifelong learning about physical, moral and emotional development. It is about the understanding of the importance of marriage for family life, stable and loving relationships, respect, love and care. It is also about the teaching of sex, sexuality, and sexual health. It is not about the promotion of sexual activity – this would be inappropriate teaching.” (Department for Education and Employment, SRE Guidance, 2000)
Why is RSE needed?
• More than ever before, children are exposed to representations of sex and sexuality through the media/ social media and the social culture around them, so we need to present a balanced view of RSE and help them to be discerning and stay safe.
• Research shows that most parents say they want the support of schools in providing RSE for their children.
• Research consistently shows that effective RSE delays first sexual experience and reduces risk- taking.
• Surveys of children and young people, as well as Ofsted, have repeatedly told us that RSE tends to be “too little, too late and too biological”.
What are the aims of RSE?
There are four main aims for teaching RSE within the context of Primary School PSHE (Personal, Social, Health Education):
• To enable young people to understand and respect their bodies, and be able to cope with the changes puberty brings, without fear or confusion
• To help young people develop positive and healthy relationships appropriate to their age, development etc. (respect for self and others)
• To support young people to have positive self-esteem and body image, and to understand the influences and pressures around them
• To empower them to be safe and safeguarded
At Moorland Primary School, we use the Jigsaw scheme of learning to teach PSHE and RSE.
The Jigsaw PSHE relationship and sex education units of work aim to give children their entitlement to information about relationships, puberty and human reproduction, appropriate to their ages and stages of development. This work is treated in a matter of-fact and sensitive manner to allay embarrassment and fear and helps children to cope with change, including puberty and to learn about families, friendships and healthy relationships. Jigsaw aims to build the positive.
Some of the key aspects covered in the course of Key Stages 1 and 2 are:
• Life cycles
• How babies are made
• My changing body
• Growing from young to old
• Becoming a teenager
• Assertiveness and self-respect
• Friendship and family life
• Family stereotypes
• Self and body image
• Relationship skills e.g.conflict resolution
• Accepting change
• Looking ahead
• Moving/transition to secondary school
What will my child actually be taught in Sex Education?
The ‘Changing Me’ unit is taught over a period of 6 weeks in the second half of the summer term. Each year group will be taught appropriate to their age and developmental stage. Please note: at no point will a child be taught something that is inappropriate; and if a question from a child arises and the teacher feels it would be inappropriate to answer, (for example, because of its mature or explicit nature), the child will be encouraged to ask his/her parents or carers at home, and the question will not be answered to the child or class if it is outside the remit of that year group’s programme.
Foundation: Growing up - how we have changed since we were babies
Year 1: Boys’ and girls’ bodies; naming body parts
Year 2: Boys’ and girls’ bodies; body parts and respecting privacy (which parts of the body are private and why this is)
Year 3: How babies grow and how boys’ and girls’ bodies change as they grow older
Year 4: Internal and external reproductive body parts, body changes in girls and menstruation
Year 5: Puberty for boys and girls, and conception
Year 6: Puberty for boys and girls and understanding conception to birth of a baby
All lessons are taught using simple, child-friendly language and pictures, which help children understand changes more effectively.
The key concepts that children learn in Jigsaw are inner strength, self-esteem and resilience. These are really important as they help keep children safe and it helps them make healthy decisions later in life.
Accurate information is important but only part of the picture: help them now by building their inner resilience, so they become mindful children, mindful teenagers, and mindful adults.
Won’t telling my child about human reproduction take away their innocence?
No. The evidence suggests that high-quality RSE does the opposite: it actually delays young people’s first sexual experience, and it helps them become much more confident and comfortable about making informed choices. Good and appropriate RSE takes away children’s ignorance, not their innocence.
Teaching about safety and relationships as part of PSHE contributes to how schools approach the safeguarding of pupils. It helps them to recognise when they and others are at risk and equips them with the skills, strategies and language they need to take appropriate action.
I’ve heard that I can take my child out of PSHE lessons on RSE. Is this true?
Yes, it is. Currently, parents/carers have the legal right to withdraw their children from the RSE included in the PSHE curriculum (as that is a non-statutory subject). But they are not permitted to withdraw their child from the Sex Education included in the National Curriculum Science Orders, as Science is a statutory subject. When Relationships Education becomes statutory we expect the parental right of withdrawal to be retained.
If you are considering taking your child out of RSE lessons within PSHE, please consider the following:
• All the other children in your child’s class will have been taught this information and may well talk to your child about it, perhaps in the playground… and potentially mislead them or confuse them as a result. It may prove far better to allow experienced and sensitive teaching staff to teach your child in a progressive, developmental way that is grounded in research.
• They will be learning about reproduction in Science lessons. The RSE in PSHE will echo this and will concentrate on teaching children how to enjoy healthy, appropriate relationships, improve self-esteem and self-confidence, and make healthy, informed choices. When viewed this way, it is hoped that RSE won’t be seen as contentious or a cause for concern, but rather as helpful.
• Talk to your child’s teacher or the head teacher. Often, when parents and carers find out what is in the PSHE curriculum, their fears are allayed as they can appreciate it is in the best interests of their child’s lifelong learning.