Sex and Relationships Education
RELATIONSHIPS AND SEX EDUCATION (RSE) – GUIDANCE FOR PARENTS AND CARERS
At St Mary’s we recognise that it is important for our children to receive a complete education. In addition to the academic subjects that are at the centre of the curriculum, we educate our children so that they are equipped to live a healthy life.
Whilst some of this education is linked to science learning, including diet and nutrition; biology, and PE, we also prepare our children for the changes that take place in their bodies and give guidance on the relationships that they develop as they get older and more mature.
This instruction takes place in RSE (Relationships and Sex Education).
It is important for all members of our community to appreciate that the way that relationships and sex are discussed and taught have changed profoundly in the last fifty years.
Society has also changed greatly, and it is understandable that some parents and carers feel anxiety about this area of their children’s development.
The purpose of these notes is to provide reassurance and clarity for parents and carers, and to signpost important documents that provide further information.
1 Education in Human Love - Diocesan Policy for Relationship & Sex Education
The school uses this document to underpin all RSE learning in the school. It contains important guidance for educators and is written by the Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark. As such, it is a reflection of Church teaching and is informed by official Vatican documents such as the Catechism and Papal instruction. It can be found in the policies section of the school website under the tab ‘Parent Information’.
This is the first reassurance for parents that the teaching children receive in our schools is based on the teaching of the Church.
2 How to talk to your child about sexual abuse
Whilst our schools will educate children about how to stay safe, parents can play a crucial role in making sure that children stay safe. As first educators of your child, there will be many opportunities to discuss issues. However, there is still a stigma attached to discussing such a sensitive issue with children. Some parents still feel embarrassed to talk about sexual matters, particularly if the parents themselves received a very conservative or traditional education themselves.
There are a wide range of free resources available on the internet for parents that help with this issue.
The school recommends the NSPCC guidance as follows:
This resource is an excellent starting point for parents. A second section of the same website is particularly useful for parents who find it difficult to approach sensitive subjects. The section is called ‘Talking about difficult topics’. The web links is as follows:
The link is useful for a range of different issues that parents face as our children grow up.
3 Talking to daughters about periods
The issue of a daughter’s first period is also a sensitive one and can be handled very differently in different families and cultures. Studies have shown that most girls start their periods when they are twelve, but it can start as young as eight, so it is important that parents, and mothers in particular, can access the right resources. A good starting point is the NHS guidance:
There is a wide range of advice online of how to begin this conversation with daughters, and many of the sites are supported or endorsed by companies who are manufacturers of sanitary products. Many parents use a carefully written book as a starting point and there is a wide range of titles for different ages.
4 Developing a conversation about human love
Alongside sexual issues relating to the health and safety of our children, it is also crucial that parents begin a dialogue about human love, and seek to instil in our children a respect for the dignity of human relationships.
A conversation will run in parallel to the education that your child will receive in our schools. In school, the themes that run through RSE change as the children get older. The focus for younger children is about healthy, loving relationships. The older children are then taught about the link between healthy relationships and sexual love, celebrated in the sacrament of marriage. It is in Years 5 and 6, after significant input in science, PSHE and RE lessons, children are taught about conception and new life. This learning is the conclusion of a long process of educating our children from Early Years Foundation Stage to the end of Key Stage 2.
When this element of their education takes place, parents will be informed by letter. If you feel that your child is not ready for this part of the curriculum, you can choose to withdraw your child from the lesson. This is done discreetly and without the knowledge of other children.
Some parents feel that their children are not emotionally mature enough to be part of this lesson, and decide to approach the issue later at home.
If this is an area that your family finds difficult to approach, the school can offer support and guidance. Please contact a member of the senior leadership of either school, in confidence, and arrange for an interview to discuss your concerns.