Bablake – Parent’s Evening & 3rd Yr Health day:
I always know that summer is almost here when the 3rd year health day appears in my diary. Every year for as long as I can remember (even in my days working for the PCT before I started working for myself) I have been asked to spend the day talking to the 3rd year pupils about contraception – although as we have over an hour and 45 minute with each class we talk about far more than that. In fact the sessions are spent covering a vast array of topics including: what sex means; why people have sex; things we should consider before we do it; plus basic anatomy and sexual responses plus any other random topics that the young people bring up themselves – and that is all before the c word is mentioned.
Like the majority of our work the sessions are always young people led, which means that whilst we may provide the starting point – they have the freedom to take it where they want to go – to ask the questions that are pertinent to them. This is the luxury of having such a long sessions as well, there is plenty of time to meander on our little SRE journey for the day!
Even better than having all that time with the young people, is the opportunity of talking to their parents the day before. As part of the health day, we always make ourselves available for an informal parent’s evening. All of the 3rd year student’s parents are invited to attend in order to be talked through what we will be delivering to their children and to raise any concerns they may have about SRE.
As a fee paying school, they always like to ensure that the parents are fully aware of any off timetable events may be taking place and to provide them with the opportunity to ask any questions.
For me I believe this is the best way for a school to make sure that everyone is on the same page and that the school, parent’s and young people are all involved in supporting SRE.
Indeed, as a result of doing this at Bablake – this is a service we try to encourage all establishments to adapt as a mode of good practice. Not only does it ensure that parents are comfortable with what is going on, but that they are also involved and feel more able to ask questions and support the learning that has already taken place, when their kids come home the next day. Even more so, in our experience, the majority of parents we encounter are keen to know how to talk to their children about issues around sex and relationships – to be honest most just want a bit of reassurance that they are on the right track.
Usually, the room is split between those that are really keen to know more because they really support SRE and those that are keen to know more because they are uncomfortable with the topic or happen to buy the Daily Mail. Which always makes for an interesting mix!
The lovely Mrs Linda Jackson will then make introductions and put the health day in to context with how it fits in with the rest of the curriculum. Then it is over to me….
I use this time to be honest, to explain my background an why I do what I do. I explain that SRE is much more than contraception and STIs – that instead I spend the majority of my time exploring attitudes and behaviours and issues of sexual ethics. I take the opportunity to speak about the VAWG agenda and why SRE is so important in combating CSE, Domestic abuse and issues to consent. We then talk them through the planned agenda for the next day and allow them the opportunity to ask questions themselves or to raise any issues.
I have learned to hang around for a bit after we have finished anyway, as this is the time that the majority of people will nip up and have a quiet little chat with you and ask the little questions that they are desperate to know.
This year the room was full – it was great to see so many parent’s there and to take to so many enthusiastic people about their own experiences and why they were so keen for their children to have the opportunity to really get stuck in to talking about SRE openly and honestly.
Roll on next summer.