SRE - Is your school prepared for the new guidance?
Sex. The great motivator; the great communicator; the great seller. ‘Everything is about sex,’ said Oscar Wilde, ‘except for sex. Sex is about power.’
There’s certainly power in what we choose to teach our young people about sex. The Department for Education’s existing sex and relationships guidance was updated in 2000, and is now, according to the DfE, out of date. It’s tempting to baulk at the idea of sex and relationships education needing updating – after all, haven’t sex and relationships been around since time immemorial? Sex hasn’t changed that much since the last Labour government, surely?
The need for updating makes sense when you consider how much has changed since then in the digital world: Tinder, online grooming, catfishing, sexting and other modern phenomena have changed the world in which our young students are growing up. As well as this, greater awareness of sexual orientations and identities means that young people are growing up with a much wider vocabulary available to them. Transgender and non-binary awareness has been raised massively in the last decade, as have sexual orientations such as pansexuality and asexuality. Social progress across the globe has seen a number of countries legalising same-sex marriage. High-profile campaigns like # MeToo have highlighted the importance of consent and fighting sexual harassment.
The DfE is right to acknowledge that schools need to catch up and invitations are still open for teachers to contribute their views about what should be include.
That’s not to say that SRE is bad in schools: there is some excellent education on these issues happening across the country, and not just from teaching staff: young people themselves are often very clued up, thanks to the prevalence of YouTube and social media. What schools need to do is get everybody on the same page when it comes to the key issues around sex and relationships in a rapidly changing and complex world.
With its likely focus on consent, same sex relationships, male and female body image, FGM, transgender issues and the staple diet of safe sex and contraception, the DfE is proposing a curriculum fit for the 21st century – but will it be finally made statutory in ALL schools? Only time will tell.
For a new SRE pack for 2018 which covers all the topic mentioned in this article click here.
For a huge selection of both free and inexpensive PSHE resources take a look here.