Teachers delivering RSE with inadequate training

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Contraception, pregnancy options, STIs, accessing sexual health services, and sexually explicit information online – these are among the topics that school staff feel the least confident teaching about.

A survey has revealed that teachers and other school staff charged with delivering relationships and sex education (RSE) often have inadequate training or no training at all to cope with the many sensitive and complex issues involved in the subject.

Conducted by the Sex Education Forum (SEF), the poll found that 29 per cent of teachers had received no RSE training at all, while 38 per cent said the training they had received was “inadequate”.

The results have been published alongside a new roadmap resource offering schools support in preparing for September 2020 when RSE (relationships education in primary schools) and health education will become statutory subjects.

The resource details 10 essential steps that schools will need to take ahead of September 2020 and covers areas such as what policies and resources to have in place and effectively using student voice in developing RSE provision.

It has been created by the SEF and PSHE Association with support from five education unions.

The topics above were listed by respondents to the survey as those areas they felt least confident tackling.

The government has proposed in its draft subject guidance that these topics will all be compulsory from 2020.

In addition, 20 per cent of the 240 teachers surveyed said they lacked confidence in adapting teaching to meet the needs of children with SEND, while 21 per cent said they lacked confidence on making the curriculum LGBT-inclusive.

Lucy Emmerson, director of the SEF, said: “The vital ingredient in effective RSE are the people who teach it. The guidance on what the statutory curriculum will cover is well underway, but what training and support will be available to schools remains to be seen.

“We have a relatively short time to prepare for statutory RSE. Some schools will need to adjust their timetable and staffing to accommodate statutory status. We hope that the roadmap will help school leaders to start taking steps now.

“We urge the government to commit money to training in this area so that all staff teaching RSE feel confident and knowledgeable to do so.”

  • For more on the roadmap resource, see Lucy Emmerson’s recent article in SecEd (A roadmap to statutory RSE, November 2018, at http://bit.ly/2DA37er. The roadmap itself is available at www.sexeducationforum.org.uk/RSEroadmap
  • Relationships education, relationships and sex education, and health education (draft statutory guidance), DfE (consultation closed): http://bit.ly/2EFz6Lp
  • Lucy Emmerson will deliver a keynote presentation on the forthcoming changes to statutory RSE & relationships education at SecEd’s Second National Delivering Statutory RSE and Health Education Conference on November 23 in Birmingham. Visit www.statutory-rse.co.uk

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