… or the renamed ‘Relationships and Changing me’ evening.
An assembled crowd of 80 people gathered in the School Hall to discuss the PSHE curriculum for Term 6 on Tuesday 15th November at 6.00pm. The Overview for each year group had been emailed or sent to Parents and Carers accompanied by an invitation to send questions or observations to school before the meeting.
Only one question was received asking if the curriculum would cover the teaching of all sexualities in Year 6. Reference to that follows below. Parents were encouraged to look at the resources and ask questions. Within a short time it was clear that parents were curious but supportive.
The evening opened with a warm welcome from Mr Ingall, then a short introduction from Mrs Swan who outlined that Sex Education is a statutory requirement in Primary School. Taught in gradual steps from Foundation to Year six from the Jigsaw syllabus which all the children are familiar with at Bloxham Primary School. Historically Sex Education was taught to children in Year Five and Six and was based purely on ‘how babies are made’. Following much research by Educationalists, children are now taught about how they will change, feel and develop, what differences they will all experience, what personal goals and dreams they should have, as well as learning about how they can be as healthy as possible. In addition to this they learn about relationships and how they will change as puberty approaches.
Mrs Swan referred to her own personal concerns about one of her children attending the Changing me session in term 6 2016 which was based on how babies are made. She weighed up the pros and cons of removing her child from the session. She decided her child would benefit from staying in the lesson, delivered sensitively and scientifically accurately by a teacher rather than seeking out the information elsewhere, only to hear inaccurate details from an ill-informed spokesperson in the playground. On reflection her decision was absolutely correct.
Ms Staples invited the parents to peruse the range of resources linked to each module and then opened the floor for questions and observations. Here follows a summary of the evening’s discussion.
A request was made for a list of the books linked to each module which will be sent out.
A parent wished to know why children were taught at a younger age now. Not only are children maturing much younger and experiencing puberty at a younger age but the extensive research has highlighted the importance of teaching children about this subject area at a younger age.
A parent asked why the school chose the Jigsaw syllabus. Mr Ingall responded with the information that two years ago, after much analysis of numerous syllabi by Ms Oatridge it was agreed that Jigsaw offered a sensitive, conservative model that not only reflected our community but also encouraged our children to feel confident in the wider world.
It was suggested that many Primary schools are choosing more radical schemes of work for their pupils but it was felt this approach would not suit our families. In addition to this Ms Staples assured parents that the school would continue to Bloxhamize the syllabus to constantly update its suitability for the children. An example was given that when a parent requested a reference to children born through IVF being mentioned in the sessions this was added to the plan.
A parent asked if Social media was referred to in these sessions whereupon Mr Protherough stepped in to reassure parents that it was taught about in ICT.
Do the children learn about different sexualities? At Bloxham Primary School all differences are celebrated and actively condoned. Children are encouraged to share their issues and feelings about sexuality or transgender issues. The Jigsaw Charter which is shared at the beginning of every lesson highlights that confidentiality is paramount.
As a class the children always form a circle which creates a space to talk, induces an arena to listen but most importantly encourages respect. Should a child not wish to make a contribution then they can ‘pass’. An opportunity for a 1:1 discussion would be offered. The distinctive Nurture Support available at BPS helps children to know that they can speak to someone else if at anytime they do not feel comfortable to talk to a class teacher.
A parent asked what a teacher would do if a child mentioned something that they did not want a parent to know. Mr Ingall’s confirmed that as part of our safeguarding procedures we could not promise to keep any information confidential and his instinctive reaction was that all things should be shared with parents but that a child would be asked why they did not want to share a comment. It was highlighted by Ms Staples that we can never promise not to share a disclosure.
A parent asked if children express their sexuality earlier to which Ms Staples responded that there was nothing to stop a child and as a school we would not discourage them.
A parent questioned how a child born in the summer; consequently 11 months younger than some peers would be considered. Ms Staples reassured the audience that as teachers we have an instinct and ability to adapt the planning for a child or children if they are not mature enough. All classes are differentiated and all children’s needs considered carefully.
A question was asked about Religious reference in the sessions - the sessions are Scientific based.
At the end of the evening there was a rousing round of applause and a great sense of unity and support as we all embark on teaching the children one of the most important subjects they need to learn.