Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) is compulsory from September 2020 for all pupils
This includes pupils:
- with physical disabilities
- with learning difficulties
- who are hard of hearing or deaf
- who are partially sighted or blind
- who have mental health problems
- who have autism
- who have ADHD
- who attend any type of faith school
- who attend any type of PRU or AP
- who are often absent
- who have behavioural issues……
How are we adapting RSE for all of our pupils?
The legislation from the Department of Education has stipulated:
“Schools should consider the make-up of their own student body, including the gender and age range of their pupils, and consider whether it is appropriate or necessary to put in place additional support for pupils with particular protected characteristics (which mean that they are potentially at greater risk).”1
In addition, as Lucy Emmerson – Director of the Sex Education Forum advises, from September the subject gains parity with other curriculum subjects – yes, Ofsted can do a deep dive.
There are a lot of helpful resources and audits on the Sex Education Forum’s website – including advice around naming a specific governor and senior lead to take responsibility of the new compulsory subject, and approaches to parent, carer and student involvement.
I have recently been asked to write articles and lead workshops on this new area of the curriculum. One of my main concerns is how we are going to get this right for the often ‘harder to reach pupils’ – and SEND pupils – and how we will successfully approach conversations with parents/carers who may have difficultly around their child having appropriate RSE.
We need to adapt and differentiate – all pupils need to receive appropriate RSE. Relationship Education is compulsory from primary school, Sex Education from Secondary.
It can be tempting to shy away from awkward questions – or wrongly assume that these, often more vulnerable, pupils will not need to know about certain areas of RSE. However, these young people can be particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse and non-consensual sexual experiences (three times as likely according to the NSPCC); they also have the right to enjoy safe, healthy relationships and positive sexual experiences with their own bodies and with other people’s, the same as any human.
See my interview here – Sex Ed & Special Needs – interview with Dr Pooky Knightsmith in which I outline the main guidance from the Department of Education, top tips for adapting the new RSE curriculum for SEND pupils, the next steps we need to take across schools to develop this area – mainly – share our best practice.
For an overview of specific special needs take a look at my accompanying article with Sec Ed – Getting Statutory RSE right for SEND pupils.