There is little wonder why subjects like RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) have been confined to teachers taking Human Biology lessons, or to those with a particular passion or the confidence to teach a bit of it in PSHE lessons. (However, there is nothing more cringing than the classics teacher having a crack at it – apparently).
The PSHE Association has moved mountains to create a wealth of resources for children (and teachers) at every age and stage. Everything from relationships to sex to contraception to internet safety.
Different schools have taken different sized bites out of the RSE education cake which has often meant a wild variation in the amount of teaching received by children up and down the country. As you can imagine, private schools have had more time and money to provide this education. I refer again to the ‘double trouble’ for those children most at risk of poor outcomes, often being the least well educated in RSE. We were holding out for the new government RSE guidance, that was due to come into play in September 2020, meaning that every secondary school aged child would be required to learn this subject matter. But then covid-19 happened and for the moment, deadlines have been kicked into next year.
Talking today to some students that partook in our sexual consent workshop in 2018 aged 15, who are now aged 17, it smacked me between the eyes just how receptive these youngsters are and how silly we are to dance around them with content that we fear they might be ‘too young’ to appreciate. It is clearly always vital to make the teaching content appropriate to the age and developmental stage of a child, I know that and I’m a Doctor by ‘trade’ not a teacher. But are we too slow on getting this information across? Sophie told me today that being ‘taught this stuff at secondary school is too late, it would have been better to have started it earlier.’ And then went on to question why adults feel ‘it puts it into our heads to be a different sexuality’ if it is taught in schools, which is frankly ‘ridiculous.’ I felt my head shrink back into my neck.
Adults are we listening?!
All agreed that this type of teaching should be compulsory. Katie went on to challenge why, to date, You Before Two have done mostly single sex sessions? I made a feeble attempt to explain that we had come to this conclusion because boys in particular seemed, thus far, to more openly express their views and participate more in a classroom without girls in it. Regan, our only boy in the reunion today sided with Katie remarking that it ‘doesn’t matter on gender, some individuals are just more comfortable talking about this stuff than others.’ And that ‘if we separate boys and girls we are asking for disparity.’
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