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St John’s Catholic Primary School, in Shropshire, is starting work on the new RSE curriculum by signing up for Shropshire Council’s Respect Yourself programme, building staff confidence and communicating with parents.

To get ready for the new RSE teaching, St John’s has done its homework. The school has signed up for Shropshire Council’s award-winning Respect Yourself RSE programme. The programme provides training for teachers and helps schools run meetings with parents, held before RSE lessons are delivered. Parents are shown the Shropshire RSE curriculum, the policy and lessons, and given reasons why the topic is taught.

Christina Derwas, the school’s RSE Lead, says, ‘We wanted to make sure we were providing all of the information the parents would need ahead of time. We wanted them to have the opportunity to ask any questions or voice any concerns.’

All parents were sent detailed information about what their child would learn. They were also invited to a meeting to find out more. The school has an open door policy, where parents can come along to ask questions at any time. Updates about the RSE classes will be sent out when needed.

‘We will continue to send notes home after classes to explain what we’ve covered,’ Christina says. ‘That way, if it comes up, the parents are prepared. It’s important for us all to work together to build relationship skills.’

For teachers at St John’s, the early work has focused on building confidence and thinking through how to deal with any difficult questions. One welcome addition to each classroom has been a question box – a tool recommended by the Respect Yourself programme. Pupils can drop in a question at any time. The teacher reads them all at the end of the day and decides the appropriate response.

‘We all really like the boxes; they give us a chance to think through the questions and how we can best respond,’ Christina says. At St John’s, they see relationship skills as a vital part of learning, whatever the age of the pupils.

‘I teach reception, and before I can teach anything academic, the children have to learn social skills and how to interact,’ Christina says. ‘We’ve always had a good PHSE [personal, social, health and economic education] base and we’re excited about these new lessons. In terms of relationships education, we are definitely all singing from the same hymn sheet!’

Learning points
  • Seeking advice from external organisations can help establish new RSE teaching in schools

  • Working with parents and carers to provide accurate information about the content of RSE lessons and establishing relationships with them before the curriculum is in place allows concerns to be resolved in good time, and before they escalate

  • Ongoing communication with parents enables them to understand what their children are learning about and to be prepared for any questions they might ask at home

This case study has been provided by The Family Stability Network (FASTN)

FASTN is the national champion of family stability and committed relationships for all families and individuals. It brings together a wider range of relationships and RSE practitioners to campaign on Relationship Education in schools.

FASTN has been working with teachers, schools and practitioners across the country to gather stories about RSE in Action. The stories aim to inspire and spark a debate about how we can make the most out of RSE.

Follow them on twitter: @fastn_org

Reviewed: December 2019

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