Our RSE Journey

It’s possible to say that Spectrum has always had its ‘RSE’ in gear. Our RSE journey begins in 2011, when we became the provider of Sexual Health Services in the Wakefield District. Alongside this, we brought along our RSE Programme – which our Lead, Andi, created from scratch.

Our vision was to make RSE fun, engaging and interesting for young people in a way that would encourage them to learn, keep them safe and positively influence their long-term behaviour. We wanted to make sure that our Programme was well-founded on data and local research, and we worked with Sexual Health professionals, education specialists, teachers and young people to get our Programme off the ground, creating our own bespoke resources that would ensure that the young people in Wakefield would get a good grounding in knowledge that would give them skills to negotiate teenage years and then ultimately adulthood.

Building on established relationships with our RSE Lead, schools welcomed our RSE Team in – first in Wakefield, then Barnsley, and later across Wigan and Leigh. We consulted with teachers, held Open Evenings with parents and involved the young people themselves as the Programme continued, an approach we still use 12 years later. Although the Programme was initially targeted towards Public Health priority areas, it gradually expanded to all secondary educational settings.

Our Programme Model

The original ‘RSE’ model brought together Sexual Health nurses with trained youth workers, to co-deliver a preventative schools-based RSE Programme which was supported by clinical knowledge. Over the next 4 years, the delivery developed into a model where youth workers became RSE Specialists – working in tandem with Sexual Health nurses in our clinics. This strengthened the relationship between the classroom and the clinic.

We also wanted to bring the benefits of the RSE Programme to all students, including pupils with additional needs. We created packages of RSE lessons for SEN students and rolled this out from Wakefield to Barnsley and now Wigan & Leigh. So how far have we come?

  • Each year, Spectrum delivered RSE sessions to around 57,000 young people across Wakefield, Barnsley and Wigan & Leigh
  • We work in mainstream education, in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), Special Schools, Youth Clubs and even online
  • In 2015, we won the Pamela Sheridan Sexual Health Award for creating an RSE Programme in a women’s prison

Sexual Health Week 2020: empowering teachers and pupils

As an RSE provider, a large part of what we do is in empowering teachers and schools to be confident, assured and focused in their approach to RSE. We provide support for teachers in handling sensitive subjects, channels for professionals to seek support if they have questions and we also keep in touch with schools via email.

We believe that this approach strengthens the provision of PHSE and leads to better outcomes for young people – it’s also based on evidence. From 3 – 31 October 2018, the Sex Education Forum ran an online survey to assess teacher confidence in delivering RSE as part of the new syllabus. A total of 350 people took part, revealing that teachers felt least confident about contraception, pregnancy options, STIs including HIV, safer sex, accessing sexual health services and also teaching about sexually explicit material online.

Moving forward

Relationships & Sex Education is now mandatory for all pupils in England and Wales, and Spectrum is at the forefront of ensuring that it is delivered with quality and consistency in our commissioned areas. To find out more about what we do, visit www.sexual-health.co.uk.