Primary School in Blackburn with Darwen Reviews SRE Policy

Primary schools across Blackburn with Darwen needed to take a greater role in delivering lessons on puberty following changes to the school nursing service. Several training days were run by the local Healthy Schools Team to equip teachers with the confidence and competence to teach about puberty as well as providing an opportunity to introduce the Blackburn with Darwen Policy framework for SRE.

The Deputy Head teacher at Daisyfield Primary School attended the puberty training day and then decided that the school SRE policy should be reviewed prior to delivering the puberty lessons in Year 5. Daisyfield Primary School has more than 90% of pupils of South Asian Heritage and predominantly Muslim.  The school worked with the Healthy Schools Team SRE Advisor and a seconded teacher from another school with a high South Asian Heritage population and followed a clear process of dialogue with partners. 

Firstly a school staff meeting was held, attended by Healthy Schools colleagues, to introduce the Blackburn with Darwen SRE policy framework. Following much discussion some amendments were suggested and a revised version of the policy drawn up and approved by the Head teacher. The revised policy was then presented to governors. Colleagues from Healthy Schools attended the governors meeting together with the Deputy Head teacher, Head teacher and school PSHE Coordinator. After a step-by-step explanation of the policy the governors, including parental representation, were very supportive and keen to put the policy in place. They felt that this policy not only supported the staff who were delivering the lessons but them, as governors, also.

With the new policy in place further work began on supporting teachers in their role. A two-hour training session was provided for all teaching, support and welfare staff to make them fully aware of the policy. Emphasis was placed on acknowledging pupil questions positively. Responses to possible safeguarding issues and confidentiality were also addressed. Staff more directly involved in delivery met to plan the curriculum content for Years 5 and 6.

Parents were then invited to a meeting to talk about the policy and look at resources. The meeting was held at 2pm; a time identified as convenient for parents, and 20 people attended. Parents were introduced to the content of the programme and techniques used such as the 'ask it basket'. The SRE Advisor shared examples of the kind of questions that children may ask based on examples collected from schools. This helped parents understand why their children need this education.

Resources to be used in lessons include a comic called 'A brand new you' which is produced by d2 in Manchester. This resource has been widely accepted in Blackburn with Darwen by both predominantly South Asian Heritage and Catholic schools. The comic does not use the word 'sex' but the Healthy Schools Team feel it is sufficiently detailed. 

Parents were invited to participate in a 'Speakeasy' course for parents, which would run in parallel with the timing of the SRE classes for pupils. Parents were supportive and none chose to withdraw their children.

The Year 5 puberty lessons have now been delivered by fully trained teachers, alongside parents who have enjoyed completing Speakeasy, which has supported them to discuss what their children have been learning in class. After the lessons pupils will be consulted about what they would like to learn in Year 6.

More information about Healthy Schools and SRE in Blackburn with Darwen is available from the local Schools and Learning Development website.