What is PSHE and RSE?
We are aware that there has been some concerns about the recent changes to PSHE (Personal, Social, Health Education), RSE (Relationship and Sex Education in Secondary) and RE (Relationship Education in Primary) reported in the press in recent weeks. After many conversations with parents and our Parent Ambassadors, we have decided to hold a workshop explaining the content of the subject of PSHE and RE at St Agnes. For this reason, we will be holding two meetings on Friday 22nd March, the first of which will be at 9:15am and the second one after school at 3:30pm for who may struggle to attend in the morning. During the meeting we will share the content covered in both subjects and share what the recent changes mean for us at St Agnes and hopefully ease parents’ worries and clarify matters.
What was the cause of the changes?
Ofsted had found that RSE needed improvement in over a third of the primary and secondary schools they inspected. They reported that education was ‘Not yet good enough in; personal, social, health and economic education in schools’ (2013). In primary schools this was because too much emphasis was placed on friendships and relationships, leaving pupils ill-prepared for physical and emotional changes during puberty, which many begin to experience well before they reach secondary school.
Contrary to social media frenzy that you may have been reading, this did not mean that 4 and 5 year old would be taught anything related to sexual relationships, and this is the same for our pupils in Year 6. Our focus in Reception/ Year One will be, as it always has been, on friendship building and relationships that are important to us. We will be learning about ourselves and our family and sharing the experience of other people families. To make the children aware of the wonderfully diverse city that we live in. This continues through the school, until Year 5 and 6, when the children are taught about the physical changes in their bodies during puberty.
I don’t want to attend and I am considering withdrawing my child from RE (Relationship Education)?
It is good practice for the children to be taught about the changes in their body at the time of puberty. It is also extremely important to use medically correct terms for genitalia to keep them safe. Ofsted provides full support for this approach (2013) and have raised concerns that some primary schools currently failing to teach this vocabulary leave children unable to describe abusive behaviours and then fail to safeguard them fully.
The knowledge and use of respectful language which challenges sexism, homophobia and other forms of prejudice can be established in RSE and does have benefits for the whole school community – both in and out of lessons. Ofsted found that casual use of homophobic language in schools is often unchallenged (2013). Children and primary and secondary level need to know that using the word ‘gay’, to mean something is rubbish is and wrong. As a Rights and Respecting School, we share the importance of people being able to live their life as they wish. Reminding the children that ‘You have the right to be You’ and language like this is unacceptable.
We hope you can make it to one of the meetings!