This consultation continues the process begun before Covid-19, inviting parents and carers of our students to give their views on the policy and approach to Relationships and Sex Education at Highgate Wood School. The draft policy is available on this link Relationships & Sex Education Policy 2021 (draft1)
in June 2019 the Department for Education published “Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education“. The intention was for all schools to implement the new guidance from September 2020. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, this timeline was extended (click here for details) Highgate Wood School were “early adopters” of the new guidance, with our Year 8\9 students involved with a research project with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the National Children’s Bureau Sex Education Forum (NCB SEF) to develop and evaluate a new relationships and sex education (RSE) programme in 2018 and implementing changes to our RSE delivery as outlined in the existing policy. We also begun a process of parental consultation with a number of face-to-face meetings with groups of parents last academic year.
We are reopening that consultation process now as we are aware of the significant impact of the pandemic both on our ability to deliver effective RSE during the period of lockdown and the impact of the pandemic itself: with many of our younger students not able to received the usual Year 6 Sex Education programme at their primary schools, the restriction of what was effective or appropriate to deliver remotely through our PHSEE and enrichment programmes during lockdowns, and the additional challenges and pressures on students and their families after spending significant amounts of time online, often without the levels of moderation, monitoring, filtering and control that would more ordinarily be applied, and with access to support services not as readily available as might be required. This has coincided with a number of different social movements, in particular Everyone’s Invited and #shewasonlywalkinghome to which the school has also responded through initial work with our students on their own Reclaim the Streets campaign and further planned work, including a dedicated Model UN Conference. These have all provided cause for us to want to review our existing plans and policy.
What has changed in the legislation?
The new requirements formalise expectations but do not many any significant changes to what we teach our students. The majority of topics are already taught as part of our Personal, Social, Health and Economics Education (PHSEE), are included in our enrichment programmes that are part of students’ personal development or are covered in Science or other subjects.
The core changes to the guidance is that:
- it is now compulsory for all schools to have a RSE Policy and to consult with parents and carers on the development of that policy
- the topics that need to be taught to students by the end of secondary schools are now itemised
- the right of parents or carers to withdraw their child from elements of sex education that are not taught as part of the compulsory science curriculum is now refined. There is a right to withdraw from the non-science\non-statutory part of sex education, but not from Relationships Education up until three terms before their child’s sixteenth birthday (after which it is the child’s decision). It is through the RSE policy that each school will determine what those aspects are.
- there is no right to withdraw from Relationship Education as these subjects – family, friendship and safety (including on-line safety) etc – are important for the children to be taught
- Relationship and Sex Education must be accessible to every child in the school
How will the school’s consultation happen?
As we still need to observe Covid-19 restrictions, the initial consultation will take place online. Parental views will be sought through an online survey available here and linked above. The findings of this survey will then provide the basis for a webinar discussion that will be available to all parents. We anticipate this webinar will take place on Wednesday 19th May. Subsequently we hope to run face to face meetings with small groups. Parents and carers are also welcome to share their thoughts directly by emailing email@example.com
Below please find links to a number of documents that may be helpful