MEDIA RELEASE - 8 July 2021
Some of the country’s best and most innovative teachers and educators have been celebrated in the national Relationships and Sex Education Awards 2021. Organised by the Sex Education Forum the awards celebrate excellence in teaching Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in England.
The subject, which is now compulsory in schools in England, gives young people the core skills and knowledge needed to form happy, healthy and fulfilling relationships. Inclusive, engaging and effective RSE lessons depend on fantastic teachers and educators and that’s exactly what these awards shone a spotlight on.
Winners, which were announced by television’s Dr. Ranj Singh via video message, were selected from shortlisted entries from across the country. A panel of young people helped choose the winners - the majority of whom had received little RSE at school - alongside RSE experts.
Announcing the winners, Dr. Ranj, said: ‘For over three decades, the Sex Education Forum has been supporting educators to deliver quality and inclusive RSE and successfully lobbied the government to make RSE a compulsory subject at long last!
‘When I was at school, there was little taught about relationships and sex, and because of Section 28, there was next to nothing about LGBT+ relationships. Now we have an opportunity to better educate future generations of young people.’
The awards took place after schools have faced significant disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic.. But the RSE teachers who were nominated showed how much progress could be made in crafting quality RSE provision, that will last into the future, with brilliant innovation to ensure young people get the most out of vital RSE lessons.
The winners of this year’s awards were (with judges comments):
Educators of the year for innovation
Kate Boot and Gemma Sharple, Oakwood Court College, Dawlish. The innovative use of speech and language therapy approaches helps students to access many conversations that are important in life, including those that may be more difficult. There was excellent evidence of how individual student needs are met.
Educators of the year for most inclusive RSE
Kate Smith, Head of Healthy Lives London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Kate’s work with local faith groups has been outstanding, ensuring a breadth of voices are involved in RSE lessons. This work has been built over a period of time and ensures changes will be long-lasting. The consistency in listening and not superimposing a curriculum has been hugely beneficial.
Educators of the year for most improved RSE provision (two winners)
Emily Hall and Fleur Critchley, Chosen Hill School, Gloucestershire. Two teachers took on the challenge of redeveloping and rebranding RSE at the school and began with a big focus on student feedback. In less than 12 months, they designed a new curriculum that responded to young people’s needs and formed a team of dedicated staff with the right skills to teach it. A cross-curricula approach is taken, connecting RSE with other subjects.
Nadine Huseyin, The Grove School, Tottenham. Led by Nadine, lessons have been created around children’s needs at this special school for pupils who have a diagnosis of autism. Nadine shares her skills with other staff who were new to RSE - and extends her support to other local schools. Lessons are now fully LGBT+ inclusive and Nadine has worked closely with parents and staff, making rapid progress in implementing statutory RSE.
The four young judges were Ruqayyah, Connie, Niah and Anisa, who were part of a Youth Advisory Board for our partners Childnet. Judging took place alongside RSE experts Laina Cores, Director of Sexpression and Kauser Jan, Assistant Headteacher at Bankside Primary School.
The winners were announced at the Sex Education Forum’s annual partners summer event held online on 8 July 2021. Attended by a range of major children’s, health and education organisations, this is the third national RSE Awards ceremony.
RSE is now compulsory in all schools in England, with Relationships Education lessons compulsory in all primary schools. The Sex Education Forum has been campaigning for the subject to be taught in schools for over three decades.
Alison Hadley OBE, Chair of the Sex Education Forum said, ‘Quality Relationships and Sex Education has the potential to change lives and the quality of teaching displayed by our winners is truly life-changing for the young people they teach and support. Role models really matter in how young people learn about the vital subjects RSE lessons cover and I’m proud our RSE Awards continue to shine a light on some of the very best in the country.
‘A huge congratulations to all our winners. Young people have been telling us for years that they need better RSE which reflects the realities of their lives. These awards show it can be done and with the right approach, they can give young people the building blocks they need to navigate the challenges of adulthood.’
QUOTE FROM KIRSTEN HARRISON, HEAD TEACHER, CHOSEN HILL SCHOOL, GLOUCESTERSHIRE
“We are delighted to have won the award for most improved provision, and we are excited and proud to see the impact that it is having on the young people that we teach. We truly believe that the content of the new RSE curriculum contains some of the most important content that students will ever learn at school, and by giving students an open and well-structured platform to discuss these issues is invaluable for them. We also couldn't have done it without the support of our team of teaching staff that deliver the RSE content within school, and their willingness to get on board with the restructuring and changes.”
QUOTE FROM LUCIA SANTI, HEAD TEACHER, GROVE SCHOOL, TOTTENHAM
"We are thrilled that the work which has gone into a tailored and very bespoke RSE curriculum for our autistic pupils has been recognised by this award. We are already seeing the impact of this work; pupils and families are beginning to talk more openly and honestly about relationships and sex education in a way that is meaningful to them."
QUOTE FROM KATE BOOT AND GEMMA SHARPLE, OAKWOOD COURT COLLEGE, DAWLISH
“We are thrilled to receive this award acknowledging our work with 16-25 year old’s with learning disabilities and autism. Awareness of the role of Speech and Language Therapy in the delivery of effective RSE is still emerging. We hope our work highlights the value we can bring in delivering accessible and enjoyable RSE sessions, with a focus on making the language of RSE understandable to learners with speech, language and communication needs”.
QUOTE FROM KATE SMITH, HEAD OF HEALTHY LIVES, LONDON BOROUGH OF TOWER HAMLETS
“I am really delighted to have won this national award for inclusive sex education. I look forward to continuing my work, with partners and parents, and working across the borough to support our children and young people in leading healthier and happier lives.”
QUOTE FROM TOWER HAMLETS COUNCIL
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “I’m thrilled when our staff are recognised for their hard work and outstanding contributions, not just locally, but as in this case, an example that can be emulated nationwide. Inclusive sex education, taught in an age appropriate and culturally-sensitive way, is vital for our young people, for keeping our children safe and better understanding and respecting others and, building on this foundation, to inform and equip them in developing mature safe and successful relationships with others throughout their lives.”
ABOUT THE SEX EDUCATION FORUM
As the voice of Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in England we promote and protect the physical and mental health of children and young people by improving their access to RSE.
We bring together our partners and wider stakeholders to share best practice, research, monitor the provision of RSE, explore and respond to new themes and identify gaps. Working together with our partners, members and wider stakeholders is central to everything we do. We support educators with high quality training, resources and a membership scheme, so they can be competent and confident providers of RSE, in partnership with parents, carers, children and young people.
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