Although the implementation of the new Relationships and Sex Education curriculum has been delayed - the work to develop a policy that reflects the values of all of our schools has been completed. In this article Mark Chater explores the development and key features of this important new policy.
Last summer the Good Shepherd Trust adopted a new model policy on Relationships and Sex Education. This important milestone will, we hope, be of direct help to the Headteachers of schools and Executive Heads in the Trust, enabling them to develop a clear and consistent policy for their own school. The DfE has placed great emphasis on the importance of RSE, and although the implantation has been delayed we hope that our schools will be prepared when teaching commences in the new academic year 2021/22.
Relationships and Sex education is a sensitive area for some teachers and parents. The new model policy tries to help schools in navigating this, by prioritising:
- Clear knowledge and information, including proper vocabulary
- Sensitivity regarding the physical and emotional changes that will face children in adolescence
- Safety, including what makes a healthy relationship or friendship, and online safety.
Our policy has been developed in consultation with Headteachers and Executive Heads. Our key reference sources are the Church of England’s vision document for education, Deeply Christian, Serving the Common Good; the church’s policy against homophobic bullying, Valuing all God’s Children; and the DfE’s guidelines on RSE. However, the model policy has been written to take into account that not all our schools are Church of England schools.
Headteachers and Executive Heads instinctively know that policy documents work best when they are not isolated, but implemented in alignment with other, related policies. This applies particularly in RSE, which is closely related to how schools implement their policies on equalities, including:
- Keeping Children Safe in Education and Child Protection policies
- Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education
- Special Education Needs and Disabilities
- Behaviour and discipline
- Emotional health and wellbeing
- Fundamental British Values
In addition, a school’s strategies for engaging parents about the curriculum as a whole will be highly relevant.
The model policy comes with a set of aims, a grid of knowledge and key concepts, supported by key vocabulary, and a model statement on managing the parental right to withdraw. Withdrawal can be a sensitive issue and the model policy seeks to let parents know their rights while also providing them with clear understanding for the rationale of the school’s approach. It is good to have parents seeing the whole RSE curriculum, compulsory elements and others, as a seamless whole that supports their child and empowers them with knowledge and guidance. The withdrawal policy includes a three-step approach to managing parents who have concerns.
The model policy can be found on our Resources pages.
We hope that as 2021/22 progresses there will be opportunities for training. Watch this space!
Mark Chater is a member of the Good Shepherd's Board of Directors. You can follow Mark for more education insight on Twitter: @MarkChater1