Soham Village College believes that relationships and sex education makes an essential contribution to every student’s health, wellbeing and preparation for adult life in society.
The students in our school come from diverse backgrounds, expressing a spectrum of beliefs and values. Together with our Advisory Body, we have considered and developed a familiarity with the beliefs and attitudes which our range of families have about issues such as relationships and sex education, abortion, contraception, LGBT+ and sex outside marriage. We recognise that we need to educate and support young people to manage ‘real world’ interactions as well as those that happen in the online virtual environment. We are committed to responding to national trends and emerging issues such as those around mental wellbeing, consent, gender and sexual identity, online pornography, sexting, female genital mutilation and child sexual exploitation. These issues have a high profile within DfE guidelines in such documents as Keeping Safe in Education (September 2022) and form the motivation behind the statutory guidance published under the revised Relationships and Sex Education curriculum.
The stage of development and the experiences of any group of young people of the same age will be diverse and varied. This fact has clear implications for curriculum content, teaching approaches, and the creation of an appropriate learning environment based on the need to develop in young people respect for each other’s differences.
The school acknowledges the importance of its pastoral role in the welfare of young people, and through the general ethos of the school, will seek to persuade students in need of support to come forward.
Aim of RSE Education
The aim of this policy is to communicate to staff, Advisory Body members, parents/guardians, visitors and students the manner in which RSE will be delivered and supported at Soham Village College, in accordance with the statutory 2020 Relationships and Sex Education curriculum.
As a secondary academy we must provide RSE to all students as per section 34 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017. In teaching RSE we are required by our funding agreements to have regard to guidance issued by the secretary of state as outlined in section 403 of the Education Act 1996 and the Relationships Education and Sex Education and Health Education Statutory Guidance (2020)
At SVC we teach RSE as set out in this policy.
What is effective Relationships and Sex Education?
It is part of lifelong learning about sex, sexuality, gender identity, emotions, relationships and sexual health. It promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of students at the school and of society. As well as preparing them at school for opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. In our view, effective Relationships and Sex Education incorporates:
Attitudes and Values
Students are helped to examine their own and other people’s attitudes and values, particularly related to sexual matters, and to respect the rights of others to their own opinions and identities. RSE can help students to develop a good self-image, body confidence and high self-esteem, responsibility, understanding of consent and the ability to make informed decisions.
Personal and Social Skills
RSE encourages the acquisition of skills so that students’ relationships with others may be positive, fulfilling and respectful. It helps them explore how to be themselves in terms of beliefs, culture and traditions and to respect others. It provides opportunities to develop communication skills and assertiveness within a range of different situations, emboldening the students to recognise opportunities to develop a healthy lifestyle.
Knowledge and Understanding
RSE provides information on puberty, personal safety, friendship and love, family life and relationships (including friendships), gender issues, conception and birth processes, contraception, sexually transmitted infections, prejudice and stereotyping, online and media and sex and the law. Thus giving an understanding of the nature and diversity of relationships and sexuality. Soham Village College strives to provide an objective and balanced view of sexual matters, correcting any misinformation students may have gained. It will give them the information and understanding they need, in accordance with the student’s background and beliefs.
What is the moral and values framework of Relationship and Sex Education?
RSE is taught within and confirms the moral and values framework of the whole school. This draws on the statement of values by the National Forum for Values in Education and the Community contained within the National Curriculum.
- We value ourselves as unique human beings capable of spiritual, moral, intellectual and physical growth and development.
- We value others for themselves, not only for what they have or what they can do for us. We value relationships as fundamental to the development and fulfilment of ourselves and others, and to the good of the community.
- We value truth, freedom, justice, human rights, the rule of law and collective effort for the common good. In particular, we value families as a source of love and support for all their members, and as the basis of a society in which people care for others.
It is expected of teachers that their personal beliefs and attitudes will not influence their teaching of RSE. They will address students’ questions with due regard to the beliefs and values of the child’s family. The teaching of RSE respects and refers to the beliefs of the child’s home background. RSE is also part of the school’s provision for Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development. It encourages each student to develop confidence and a clear awareness of their own beliefs and values and to develop mutual understanding and respect between students for their diverse beliefs and values.
How is Relationships and Sex Education organised?
RSE is not an isolated subject: it permeates the whole school curriculum, the ethos of the school, the pastoral system and is informed by the role models given by teachers. Opportunities should be used as they occur for answering students’ questions and exploring issues as they arise.
All subjects, but particularly Science, Religious education, English and Drama provide a focus for exploring some elements of RSE.
RSE is also taught within the PSHE education curriculum through sessions within tutor time, fortnightly PSHE lessons delivered at KS3 and whole school drop down days (three per year). Biological aspects of RSE are taught within the Science curriculum.
Students may also receive standalone sex education sessions delivered by a trained health professional
The PSHE Co-ordinator alongside the pastoral team and heads of faculties jointly co-ordinate Sex Education and are jointly responsible for the overall planning, implementation and review of the programme.
How does Relationships and Sex Education relate to equal opportunities?
The school’s policy for equal opportunities also underpins the teaching of RSE. Relationships and Sex Education can act as a basis for promoting equality between individuals and groups. It necessarily involves an exploration of human and social diversity, and a fostering of self-esteem and self-worth in a learning environment that recognises and respects difference. We work to ensure that our relationships and sex education is relevant and accessible to all our students, it is respectful of how students choose to identify themselves, and that it is appropriate for all levels of understanding and maturity. This means that relationships and sex education is sensitive to the different needs of individual students and may evolve and adapt over time.
How is Relationships and Sex Education taught?
The school recognises the need to begin with students’ own experiences, beliefs and values and, therefore, places a high importance on creating a supportive and secure atmosphere where they can develop the confidence needed to talk, listen and think about relationships and sex. In order to do this, teachers:
- Establish ground rules with students
- Emphasise the importance of mutual respect
- Require no open personal disclosures in a class setting
- Use distancing techniques
- Provide for anonymity by using a question box (this also gives the teacher time to consult with colleagues on how to answer unexpected questions from students)
- Encourage reflection within lessons, across a year of teaching and through revisiting topics throughout KS3 and KS4
The school also draws on a range of teaching methods in order to encourage exploration of attitudes, values and beliefs, using active learning methods which involve students and help them to personalise information. This also increases the likelihood of the learning being relevant and effective. The school includes activities where students’ can practise and develop confidence in using communication, negotiation and decision making skills. Students are consulted about issues they wish to explore, how they wish to work together, how well lessons are going and what changes need to be made.
The school recognises that some aspects of RSE are a whole school concern and that some aspects can be covered by subject teachers across the curriculum. However, there are aspects which need to be taught separately in PSHE, including those specifically relating to sexual matters such as contraception and STIs. Not all teachers are best suited to teach some of these. Therefore, some RSE topics may be delivered by a panel of teachers who are particularly trained and confident in teaching this subject. In addition, the school draws on the expertise of, faith communities and a representative spectrum of national specialist agencies. Students are given a choice about their participation in learning activities related to sexual matters such as contraception and STIs. Resources are chosen from agencies which represent diverse beliefs, which are appropriate to students’ age, maturity and religious and cultural background.
All teachers are given training on handling sensitive topics and are made clear about confidentiality boundaries and know where/who to refer students for confidential advice and support.
Right of Withdrawal
Relationships and Sex Education is part of all students’ education and it is hoped that all will participate. However, the school acknowledges that, under the Education Act 1993 and 2020 guidelines, parents have the right to withdraw their children from all or part of the relationships and sex education programme, up to and until 3 terms before the child turns 16. After this point, if the child wishes to receive sex education rather than being withdrawn, the school will arrange it. Students cannot be withdrawn from that part which occurs in the National Science Curriculum. Parents need to be aware, however, that relationships and sex education can occur at any time if it arises naturally from class discussion. They also to need to consider whether they want their child withdrawn from all relationships and sex education or just that part which deals explicitly with sexual intercourse and related issues. Discussions on feelings, values and relationships may well not be of concern. Parents wishing to exercise the right of withdrawal should write to the Headteacher.
Procedure for Monitoring and Evaluating
The policy and teaching programme will be reviewed every year, based on the outcome of monitoring and evaluation. Advisory Body members and senior staff will take a key role in monitoring the progress of the policy. Advisory Body members, teachers, parents, and students will evaluate the effectiveness of the policy as a working document. Evaluation could include:
- Assessments of knowledge and understanding of information and issues addressed in RSE
- Students’ responses to teaching content and methods
- Teachers’ responses to teaching content and methods
- Evidence of students’ increased self-responsibility and respectful attitudes to opposite sex monitored by senior pastoral staff
- Decrease in recorded instances of expressions of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, bullying, sexist graffiti, casual use of derogatory language, particularly with sexual or gender meanings, monitored by senior pastoral staff
Useful policies and references
Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy (Soham Village College, Autumn 2022)
Behaviour Policy (Soham Village College, Autumn 2022)
ICT, Internet, Cyber Security and Acceptable Use policy (Staploe Education Trust, Summer 2022)
Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education (DfE, 2019)
Keeping Children Safe in Education (DfE, updated September 2022)