This statement was developed in response to Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education Statutory guidance provided by the Department for Education, June 2019.
Today’s children and young people are growing up in an increasingly complex world and living their lives seamlessly on and offline. This presents many positive and exciting opportunities, but also challenges and risks. In this environment, children and young people need to know how to be safe and healthy, and how to manage their academic, personal and social lives in a positive way.
‘To embrace the challenges of creating a happy and successful adult life, pupils need knowledge that will enable them to make informed decisions about their wellbeing, health and relationships and to build their self-efficacy. Pupils can also put this knowledge into practice as they develop the capacity to make sound decisions when facing risks, challenges and complex contexts. Everyone faces difficult situations in their lives. These subjects can support young people to develop resilience, to know how and when to ask for help, and to know where to access support.’ (Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education, 2019)
Young people with learning difficulties often have increased vulnerability to a range of RSE issues, meaning that it is even more important to teach pupils how to recognise and deal with problems they may face both now and in their futures.
What is Relationships and Sex Education (RSE)?
RSE is learning accurate and appropriate lifelong learning about physical, sexual, moral and emotional development. RSE equips young people with essential skills for building positive, enjoyable, respectful and non-exploitative relationships and staying safe both on and offline. It involves acquiring information, knowing the law, developing skills and forming positive beliefs, values and attitudes.
The term relationships and sex education (RSE) – is used in this policy to stress that our approach goes beyond provision of biological information to also focus on clarifying attitudes and values, and developing self-esteem and the skills to manage and maintain relationships.
Principles and Values
At The Westminster School we believe that RSE should:
Be an integral part of the lifelong learning process, beginning in early childhood and continue into adult life.
Be an entitlement for all young people
Encourage every student to contribute to our community and aims to support each individual as they grow and learn.
Be set within the wider school context and support family commitment and love, respect and affection, knowledge and openness. Family is a broad concept; not just one model, e.g. nuclear family. It includes a variety of types of family structure, and acceptance of different approaches.
Encourage students and teachers to share and respect each other’s views. We are aware of different approaches to sexual orientation, without promotion of any particular family structure.
The important values are love, respect and care for each other.
Generate an atmosphere where questions and discussion on sexual matters can take place without any stigma or embarrassment.
Recognise that parents are the key people in teaching their children about sex, relationships and growing up. We aim to work in partnership with parents and students, consulting them about the content of programmes.
Recognise that the wider community has much to offer and we aim to work in partnership with health professionals, social workers, peer educators and other mentors or advisers.
We support students to discuss and be aware of genders and gender identification.
Aims of RSE in our school
The aim of RSE at The Westminster School is to provide balanced, factual and non-biased information about relationships, reproduction and wider contexts including emotional, ethical, religious, and moral dimensions for a range of topics. Our RSE programme aims to prepare students for an adult life in which they can:
Develop awareness of the physical self, how it functions and how changes occur over time.
Develop practical strategies for self-management of body actions such as menstruation, puberty and related physical changes.
Develop awareness of emotions and how they relate to behaviour of self and others.
Develop understanding of how physical changes can affect emotional responses (female & male hormonal changes) and to help pupils to self-manage these.
Develop positive values and a moral framework that will guide their decisions, judgements and behaviour; have the confidence and self-esteem to value themselves and others and respect for individual conscience and the skills to judge what kind of relationship they want.
Develop awareness of the differing nature and levels of relationships and the codes of conduct relating to them.
Develop an awareness of different ‘life choices’ with regard to transitions from school and home in relation to the development of relationships as part of a wider context.
Develop awareness of codes of conduct governing sexual expression & sexuality, particularly in relation to understanding the concepts and implications of ‘public’ & ‘private’ behaviours.
Help pupils to develop strategies for ‘keeping safe’ and for protecting themselves against exploitation or abuse.
Have an understanding of the physical aspects of reproduction, contraception and sexual health as appropriate to age and cognitive ability of the individual pupil.
Communicate effectively by developing appropriate terminology for sex and relationship issues.
Develop awareness of themselves including their core beliefs and values, sexuality and opinions.
Be aware of sources of help and acquire the skills and confidence to access confidential health advice, support and treatment if necessary
Know how the law applies to a range of topic including alcohol, drugs, sex and consent.
To develop an understanding of how social networks/media portray body image and sexuality.
To develop knowledge of responses to peer pressure.
A Personalised Approach
A specialised programme of RSE has been developed within The Westminster School. The programme takes into account all pupils; whilst meeting individual learning needs. All teachers have a copy of the whole school RSE framework and access to recommended resources for teaching. The programmes of study are adapted and personalised appropriately to meet the cognitive levels of each student.
For some young people with a learning disability it may be confusing or alarming when physical and emotional changes occur. At The Westminster School we aim to develop strategies for coping with change as they grow and develop physically and emotionally.
Many pupils may not understand the ‘rules’ of society ‘naturally’ and their understanding of what behaviour is acceptable may be impaired. At The Westminster School we aim to support young people in learning these social rules and to understand when it is safe and appropriate to express their sensual feelings.
Due to the considerable diversity that exists between pupils at The Westminster School with regard to cognitive functioning, it is not appropriate for all pupils to cover every aspect of the curriculum.
For some pupils it will be appropriate to teach only the functional aspects of the curriculum that have relevance to the individuals concerned. For a minority of pupils it is more appropriate to address specific areas of difficulty as and when they occur and to continue to work on early development objectives at other times.
RSE interventions are also available and planned throughout the week for more focused and personalised sessions on a 1:1 basis for any pupils needing further support with a particular area of need. Staff can submit a support referral form if they have a particular RSE concern regarding a pupil, this can sometimes be as requested by a parent/carer as a result of RSE issues at home. Referrals are discussed in weekly Triage meetings to decide on the best action to support the pupil.
Curriculum Content & Strategies
The Westminster School personalises provision for pupils in different curriculum pathways and individual needs across the curriculum. Below is a table to show some of the key aspects usually taught in RSE, however content is selected based on a pupils cognitive understanding, age and personalised targets. Pupils are only taught about more sensitive topics when staff feel they are ready to understand this information and use it appropriately and safely.
Whilst some knowledge is taught in discrete RSE lessons, many skills and knowledge are taught across the curriculum giving pupils opportunities to embed skills and apply their understanding to a range of contexts making learning more functional for their futures.
As much as possible we provide an interactive learning environment which is motivating and allows pupils to practise skills to embed information and knowledge. Pupils are provided with exciting and engaging opportunities to apply skills and knowledge to ensure learning is functional, purposeful and reflective. We have a range of RSE resources accessible to all pupils to further their understanding, engagement and independence in a range of areas.
Monitoring and Evaluation of RSE
RSE evidence is captured and assessed in the same way as other curriculum areas. Please refer to the Assessment and Feedback policy for more information.
All form teachers and RSE teachers are responsible for planning and monitoring progress of pupils for RSE. It is the responsibility of the SHaLT (Safe, Happy and Learning Together)/RSE Co-ordinators alongside SLT to oversee and organise the monitoring and evaluation of SHaLT and RSE, in the context of the overall school plans for monitoring the quality of teaching and learning.
The Westminster Governing Board is responsible for overseeing, reviewing and organising the revision of the Relationship and Sex Education Policy. Ofsted is required to evaluate and report on the Quality of Education that pupils receive, as well as Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development. This includes evaluating and commenting on the school’s RSE policy, and on support and staff development, training and delivery.
Right to Withdraw
As stated by the Department for Education in statutory guidance published June 2019, parents/carers have the right to withdraw their child from some, or all of sex education delivered as part of statutory RSE. Please note, the right to withdraw is for sex education only and does not include content delivered as part of relationships education or as part of the statutory science curriculum. If a parent/carer wishes to withdraw their child from any part of sex education, they need to contact school to have a discussion with the Head Teacher, so that he/she can be made aware of the reasons and provide alternative arrangements. The request to withdraw a child from sex education can be made up to and until three terms before the child turns 16. After that point, if the child wishes to receive sex education rather than be withdrawn, the school should include the young person in sex education provision.