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Teaching SRE this term? Our top tips

Discussion in 'Primary' started by JigsawPSHE, Jun 30, 2016.

  1. JigsawPSHE

    JigsawPSHE New commenter

    If you’re a Primary Teacher preparing/dreading Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) this Summer Term, we’ve written these impartial top tips to help you feel more at ease.

    1. Get comfortable with the terminology

    Yes, good SRE involves saying some anatomically-correct words that might not be part of your normal vocabulary! But using euphemisms will not do anyone any favours and could actually complicate matters.

    If you feel uncomfortable with the terminology, you have several options:
    • Practise saying the words to yourself until it becomes easier. Remind yourself that it is just a word that is important for children to learn and use.
    • Ask for support from a colleague who might be willing to team teach with you.
    • Attend a training course on high quality SRE.
    • Ask a colleague to teach the lessons that you feel unable to.
    Overall, emphasise to children that, whilst they may use different words at home to refer to part of their bodies, at school we use agreed terminology throughout.

    2. Set a Group Charter Agreement before you start

    This is vital for any PSHE lesson, particularly for SRE, to create a safe and positive learning environment. Setting expectations from the outset can help to avoid awkward situations too.

    Agree with your class some things like the following:
    • Right to pass: you don’t have to ask or answer questions if you don’t want to.
    • Respect everyone’s right to an opinion: you don’t have to set the expectation that we should respect everyone else’s opinion, this is unfair to ask anyone.
    • Opportunity for all: give everyone the chance to participate if they would like.
    • Confidentiality: ensure everyone in the class understands what this entails in your school context.
    • Kindness: treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.
    3. Be clear about the law and legalities

    Make sure you are up-to-date with current guidelines on parents’ right to withdraw their child/children from SRE, as well as what the Science curriculum teaches, and what to do if a child discloses something in one of your lessons.

    4. Be familiar with your school’s SRE policy

    Whilst personally you may agree or disagree with what is in the SRE curriculum, professionally you have to ensure that you are teaching to the school’s SRE policy. If you feel uncomfortable about this, inform senior management, being very clear about your concerns and why this could affect the quality of your teaching. In future, you may like to participate in the policy review process if you would like to change any part of it.

    5. Be ready for ‘awkward’ questions

    As with point 3, forewarned is forearmed. Children are curious and, for many, their favourite question is “Why?”

    Rather than avoiding children’s questions, we need to do them the courtesy of answering honestly.

    Answer at a knowledge level that is appropriate to that child’s age and stage of development, with the opportunity given for the child to be able to ask further questions if needed. Why not practise answering questions in a clear, matter-of-fact way with your colleagues.

    6. Think as a professional, not as a parent

    For many teachers who are also parents, there can be a tendency to protect children from information about SRE with the reasoning that “my child/children didn’t learn about this until they were older”, often with the rationale that “it didn’t do them any harm”.

    However, things change. Time marches on and current SRE guidelines and good practice evolve too. We need to ensure that today’s children are receiving accurate, consistent information from trustworthy sources. So that their knowledge is not riddled with myths, misunderstood notions and fear.

    7. Have fun!

    SRE lessons can be fun, entertaining and injected with humour, so don’t try to stop children from giggling.

    If you as a teacher bring levity and ease to your lessons, children are more likely to react positively. As such, they will become naturalised to it and treat it as a normal part of life. Surely this is something that we would all like for our children…

    What do you think? What in your experience has worked best when teaching SRE?
  2. feelinhappy2day

    feelinhappy2day New commenter

    It can be tricky to deliver such a topic but is it wrong that I revel in it now? 14 years of teaching and this topic never gets boring and each time of teaching it I giggle more myself at their ideas, thoughts, misconceptions (obviously never at their face though!) and just feel blessed that I feel I am able to fill in the void in their education of this.
    - secret question boxes always work well that way the quieter ones get a chance
    - great clips are available online to show as an introduction
    - we always use the newsletter to help give useful reputable websites for parents to help them if they would like to discuss things with their children. We also use the newsletter to inform parents / carers as to where we are with topics and what's coming next so that eay keeping them in the loop.
    - some external agencies have been great and although it's been a knightmare finding good ones (which are free!) we are lucky to have found some.
    - we also work on a staff rotation where possible and staff have chosen what they like to deliver. They have become 'experts' within this area and classes rotate around them. That way staff are all happy what they deliver.
    - we always start with relationships and what makes this etc as that's the foundation to a lot.

    We enjoy it and staff working together has really made it work and the children are better educated because of this I think :)
  3. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    We are using the jigsaw materials for the first time this year.
    Everything is in introduced about 2 years earlier than in any other scheme I have ever used.

    That's the biggest challenge we are trying to deal with. Staff feeling they are taking away the innocence of the children.

    Not sure we will keep this part of jigsaw next year.
  4. JigsawPSHE

    JigsawPSHE New commenter

    Thanks for your comment. We have written Jigsaw with the intention of meeting children’s needs in today’s world. We realise that children’s lives today are very different from five years ago, let alone from when we were at school. Therefore, the education they receive needs to reflect this. We might like to ‘protect’ children from the world today, but that can do them an injustice – and mean that their heads are full of half-truths that they have heard second- or third-hand. Research shows us time and time again that children want and need SRE that is age- and stage-appropriate, that teaches them about relationships and emotions, and that is returned to consistently throughout their education. Some adults may feel that they know too much, when actually ignorance in the enemy of innocence: effective SRE delays sexual activity, ensures children are safer and empowers them to make their own healthier choices. The Jigsaw sex education lessons in the ‘Changing Me’ Puzzle aim to give children their entitlement to information about puberty and human reproduction, appropriate to their age and stage of development. It is treated in a matter-of-fact manner to allay embarrassment and fear. We do not believe it is controversial. It is flexible enough for a school to ensure that the material fits its ethos and values and there is a strong safeguarding element to the ‘Changing Me’ Puzzle. Teachers need to use their professional judgment as to what is best for children in their care.

    One of the ways we can support teachers who are new to Jigsaw and the SRE within it is to provide training. We run regional SRE training days, as well as in-school training sessions, and one-to-one support sessions. Our training always makes it clear to anyone teaching Jigsaw PSHE lessons that they will need to use their professional judgment and decide how best to teach in their particular setting. Please do get in touch with us directly so we can support you.

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