Nick Forsyth is Head of Wellbeing at Kingston Grammar School. On Wednesday 27th March 2019, KGS will host a Countdown to Statutory RSE conference specifically tailored to the independent sector. In this blog, Nick tells us why they wanted to support independent schools to #CountdownWithUs
KGS is delighted to, once again, be working with the Sex Education Forum (SEF) and also with It Happens. Sex Education Forum is the country’s leading organisation promoting and delivering high quality RSE while Alex Fryer and Amy Forbes-Robertson from It Happens are known to hundreds of schools up and down the country for their straight-talking presentations and workshops on RSE. When we were together for our previous conference, SRE for Generation Z, in 2016, a major focus was on lobbying the government to make RSE compulsory in all schools. That change has now come but there is still much to do, not least in ensuring that teachers are adequately prepared for the new reforms.
The current statutory guidance for the teaching of RSE has not changed since it was introduced in 2000 and, in many ways, is now completely outdated. In particular, the current guidelines fail to address the risks to children and young people that have grown in prevalence in recent years such as internet pornography, “sexting” and staying safe online.
Safety is a key issue, and the government is keen to stress that the new reforms to RSE go hand-in hand with updates to Keeping Children Safe In Education and, in particular, to the increased focus on peer-on-peer abuse. Young people face an ever-growing number of very real dangers. These include mental health issues, radicalisation, grooming and sexual abuse, violence against women, serious issues surrounding consent and sexual pressure. Recent research involving 2300 young people found that half have not learnt about grooming or how to get help if they are being sexually abused. A third know nothing about consent and many do not know what an abusive relationship looks like.
The government's reforms are an opportunity to modernise the teaching of this vital subject and to ensure that all children have access to relationships and sex education that is consistent, up-to date and inclusive. If children and young people are not given high quality, age-appropriate RSE then who can blame them if they turn to other sources for guidance including the fashion and entertainment industries and, of course, the internet. Love it or hate it, do we really want our young people to learn about relationships by watching Love Island?
Whatever your view, in a rapidly changing sexual landscape, we need, more than ever, to promote safe, equal and enjoyable relationships. This is every child’s right, not least because an ill-informed child is a vulnerable child.
The teaching of RSE is changing. Will you be you ready?
Join us on Wednesday 27th March at Kingston Grammar School. We so look forward to welcoming you.