First, we would like to thank you all for the excellent level of response to our Sex and Relationship Education policy consultation. It is extremely important to us that we take on board your views to ensure that we are delivering the curriculum in a way that complements your parenting.
We asked for your views on developing the SRE policy, along with a number of proposed amendments and for any additional comments about what you wanted to be included in the policy. Following your input, we have re-written the policy to include the points you have asked to be included.
The policy will be sent to governors for discussion and approval at the end of March and once this has been approved, it will be implemented from the start of the Summer Term 2016.
We would like to reiterate that we have a duty to deliver the content of the science strand of the National Curriculum. In Key Stage One this consists of teaching children to notice that animals, including humans, have offspring which grow into adults. In Key Stage Two this consists of describing the changes as humans develop to old age, and recognising that living things produce offspring of the same kind, but that normally offspring vary and are not identical to their parents.
Our SRE policy has been developed with due regard to the Government Guidance on SRE (DfE 2000). This part of the curriculum is not a legal requirement. It is, however, considered best practice and we strongly urge all parents to ensure that their children partake fully in this important learning.
In terms of numbers, we had 420 responses across the Federation. 373 responses were in favour of the policy and its amendments, 20 responses which sought further clarification of one or more of the questions, and 27 responses which were unhappy for their child to receive Sex and Relationship Education. This equates to 89% of respondents being in favour.
Your responses to our questions can be summarised as follows:
Question: Are you happy with our proposed amendments to our SRE policy?
The vast majority of those responding said that they were in favour of our policy amendments.
A section of those that were unsure – or not happy – were concerned about the extent to which we might discuss FGM (female genital mutilation). We wish to reassure you about the age appropriateness of our delivery of information on this topic. The lesson plans have been taken from the PSHE Association and will be delivered to Year 6 boys and girls but in separate sessions. The lesson is not taught as a stand alone lesson without first preparing the children that the lesson is about keeping themselves and their bodies safe. Part of this is not allowing anyone to touch the parts of their body which are private (with the exception of a doctor). Children will also have the opportunity to have a good understanding of body parts, puberty changes, appropriate and inappropriate touch and positive relationships. Reference will be made to the NSPCC PANTS (Privates are private, Always remember your body belongs to you, No means no, Talk about secrets that upset you, Speak up, someone can help) campaign which the children will already be aware of. It will be explained that FGM means changing or removing part of the female private parts by cutting them and that this practice is harmful and illegal in this country. It will also be explained that FGM is something that happens to some girls in some cultures and that it is important that they remember the PANTS campaign. We will refer children to both Childline and adults in school that children can talk to should they wish to.
It is important to note that we will reinforce that FGM is not universally practiced, to avoid children thinking it can happen to anyone. Those delivering the lesson will take a measured, factual approach and avoid alarmist or stigmatising language. Our primary objectives are to make sure that children have a space in which to discuss issues that concern them and to ensure that they have enough information to keep themselves and others safe.
Some of the other responses were concerned that we would be discussing, and condoning, a range of relationships outside that of traditional, heterosexual marriage. We will, of course, be discussing the fact that families can come in many forms and that, while marriage is indeed a great institution, there are many different relationships that can provide love and support. Respecting peoples’ choices of lifestyle is both an important value to us as a Federation and an important British Value.
Question: Is there anything additional that you would like to cover in our SRE provision?
Some respondents felt that their children were not ready to receive this information. We would hope that this response, the amended policy and the additional information contained on the school websites relating to SRE provision will address these concerns.
Some respondents asked for reassurance that we would be dealing with safety within relationships. We can provide that reassurance.
We wish to reassure you that if your child has social and emotional needs, these will be taken into consideration when planning the delivery of this provision and indeed, the support provided for them after the sessions.
Question: Would you like our SRE provision to extend further to e.g. homework, parent workshops?
The majority of the responses were positive to the idea of extending this topic outside of the classroom. Many parents were interested in having this as a homework topic, some were keen to be provided with resources to discuss at home and others also were keen on parent workshops. Conversely, some felt workshops would be unnecessary and one of the reasons that was mentioned against holding parent workshops was the fear that these workshops may be ‘hi-jacked’ by parents with a particular anti-SRE agenda.
As a result, we will be incorporating some SRE into homework but will not be holding parent workshops.
As mentioned above, we will give you notice prior to the lessons being delivered in order to allow you time to speak with the class teachers about the details of the lessons. In addition, we will make available a range of suggested resources in order to ensure that you are best placed to discuss these matters with your children at home should you or they wish to do so. Hopefully these resources will be sufficient to provide enough information and talking points for those parents that were interested in attending a workshop on this topic.
Any other comments?
A number of parents suggested that children be separated into boys and girls for these lessons. This is, indeed, what we do for a section of the upper key stage two curriculum. Further, where the content of those lessons are particularly gender specific, and may give rise to a series of questions, we ensure that a female teacher delivers the lesson to girls and a male teacher to the boys.
Finally, we will keep you informed, with a reasonable amount of time, about when your child is due to receive elements of the SRE policy referred to in this letter.
Here is a copy of the draft SRE policy. We will be taking it to governors for approval later this month. Once, it is approved, we will post it here on the blog.
Mrs. Read and Mr. McCormack