Our lessons evidence individual progress and are filled with interactive tasks that meet the objectives within the statutory RSE guidance. Yet as I reflect and input the feedback received on lessons delivered pre-COVID, I am struck by the simplicity of what is actually needed in RSE from the view of the young person.
Of course, lessons do need to be well-planned and informed by research and evidence, but are we over planning and over-filling lessons with content that is fun and engaging – when a bolder response would be to spend more time creating a safe space for discussion, handing RSE back to the young people?
The path to progress
Here’s what three Year 10 students said following a recent STI & Contraception Update lesson:
- I think this was a useful lesson because you can be open, ask any questions and get an unbiased answer.
- I think the lessons are useful because people can then go and speak to them and get answers.
- I think that all Spectrum lessons are fascinating and provide you with an opportunity to ask questions.
When young people feel safe within the classroom, confident that they have respect from peers and permission to be open, that is when authentic learning happens and progress is made in the RSE sessions. For Sex Educators, my advice is to get the group agreement or classroom rules right, and the rest will flow. To create a group agreement, ask the students to consider how they can make the following happen within the classroom in a safe and supportive way;
- Sensitivity to diversity
*A survey of 9,913 14-25 year olds conducted by the Duke of Edinburgh Award programme in April 2020 titled The impact of lockdown on young people found that “83% are spending more time in front of a screen” and “71% are concerned it will impact their academic knowledge and skills