Whether you are new to teaching Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) or have been teaching it for a while there are certain principles of RSE you may find helpful to consider.
Follow your schools Relationships and Sex Education Policy
Schools must keep an up to date RSE Policy by law and teachers are bound to follow school policy. Make sure your policy is robust, meets all existing equalities legislation and ensure you contribute to its development and improvement process. The RSE Hub can support you with developing RSE Policies.
Ensure you are trained
This subject covers a lot of issues that may need specialist training or support to deliver. There are many continuing professional development opportunities you can take part in. The RSE Hub can recommend or provide training on all aspects of RSE.
Safeguarding and confidentiality
Always keep in mind safeguarding and confidentiality. If you maintain proper distancing techniques such an anonymous question boxes and no personal stories then you are very unlikely to have any safeguarding disclosures. The Sexual Offences Act (2003) is clear that the legal age of consent is 16, it states that a child 12 and under is unable to consent to sex and all such cases MUST be referred onto the safeguarding lead for your school. The law is not intended to prosecute mutually agreed teenage sexual activity between two young people of a similar age over the age of 13, unless it involves abuse or exploitation. Always make sure you follow the safeguarding policy in your school. The RSE Hub can help you with RSE and issues relating to safeguarding and confidentiality.
Work with parents
All parents have a right of withdrawal from Sex Education apart from the aspects within the science national curriculum. You will find that most parents are supportive of school RSE. If you want to engage with parents have a specific RSE stand at a general parents evening rather than an RSE evening as you will be able to reach many more parents. The RSE Hub can support you with working with parents.
Be respectful of differing values related to sex and relationship education
Relationships and Sex Education can be a difficult subject to teach at times as it can have such a wide spectrum of differing values but most importantly your role as a teacher of the class is to support your learners in developing their own knowledge and understanding, attitudes, skills and values in this vital subject. Offer opportunities for students to engage in discussion about them, the class doesn’t need to reach consensus but opportunities should be offered for all opinions to be heard if expressed thoughtfully and mindful of others differing opinions. Getting students to use “I feel….” statements rather than “they are….” type statements may help. The RSE Hub can support you with managing challenging discussions.
Agree your ground rules and follow them
Agree your ground rules before you begin and reinforce them as you go along. This creates the safe boundaries for you to work together as a group. The most important ground rule is that of not sharing personal experiences, only talk just general situations and examples. Make sure you also model the ground rules as well as getting the young people too. For more help with ground rules see our “Top Tips for Developing Ground Rules”.[hyperlink]
Terminology & Inclusive language
It is a good idea to agree as a class the terminology for the lessons. Some words may cause offence to some people so it maintains a safe group environment if you agree to use the same words, usually the scientific ones. Make sure the language you use is inclusive. Remember the RSE you provide must meet the needs of all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, therefore you should be mindful of reinforcing gender stereotypes and you should consider using “your partner” rather than “your boyfriend / girlfriend”, as well as not just focusing on penis in vagina sex but other forms of sexual activity.
Use an anonymous question box
Always provide an anonymous question box for young people to ask questions as some students may have a question they are too embarrassed to ask in front of the class. This can also give you more time to answer them as you may decide to take the questions away to answer the next lesson and decide how best to answer them. Also remember sometimes some questions may not require the extreme level of detail you may be about to launch into so make sure you clarify where a student is coming from by asking more questions if you need to.
If in doubt, ask
If you are not sure about any aspect of RSE provision, then find out. You may have a local authority lead who can support you, or contact us at the Hub.
Have fun and enjoy teaching RSE!
It is one of the most rewarding and vital subjects to teach.
For more help in delivering RSE contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
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