Youth conference

Coming soon: our 4th Annual Youth Conference

The new guidance for statutory RSE has finally been released. The DfE have had their say what young people should be taught – now it is up to schools to implement it…

There is just one key piece missing… What do young people think? What do young people want from their RSE and how can we all deliver RSE that is not only inclusive, but also meets the needs of those it is aimed at?

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Our 4th annual Youth conference has been designed to give young people from across Warwickshire schools to have their say: “More Sex Ed please; We’re British”. We have invited all secondary school from across the county to bring 6 Year 9 pupils to attend the conference Tuesday 4th June at Dunchurch Park hotel – and already the guest list is filling up. Each year the conference is getting bigger and better.

During the day all attendees will have the opportunity to explore various issues around social media. There will be key note speeches and workshops delivered by experts. During lunch there will be a market place allowing attendees to pick up a few freebies and a chance to chat with professionals from a number of organisations that can offer support to both young people and schools in general.

This year we are asking all our schools to prepare a small piece of work to present at the conference.  We are asking the young people you bring to the conference prepare a short 60second film to present at the end of the day to explore what RSE should look like.

As always, the day will end with a presentations and an award ceremony to celebrate all of our young folk.

The planning is well under way, and we will keep you posted as we get closer to the big day.

All About Me - Primary · Guidance

Inclusive comprehensive RSE passed by parliament. 

The new relationship and sex education guidance proposed by the DfE was passed last Wednesday 27th March by parliament, with a huge majority of 538 to 21 votes.

However, getting the new guidance passed through the house has been  not been a simple task despite the evidence base and almost unanimous support from both sides… 

Instead of celebrating a huge step forward for young people’s rights and safety, much of the headlines have instead been distracted by the protests outside schools in Birmingham and Manchester. Some people are concerned whether children in primary school need to know about LGBTQ+ issues or will be able to cope with the information. 

So let’s move past the headlines and clear things up.

The Equality Act:

In 2010 the Equality Act enshrined in law particular protected characteristics to ensure that all people, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, gender, age or ability would be treated fairly and without discrimination. This means all public bodies, and that includes nurseries and schools, have a legal responsibility to considering the needs of all individuals when carrying out their day to day work, but must also work to protect people and eliminate discrimination.

This means that schools should have a curriculum, which celebrates differences and fostering good relations between people regardless of their background or identity.

There are nine protected characteristics of Equality Act – but here is a question – what order do they go in… which characteristics trump which…? 

There is no correct order – they are all equal – hence the name. 

This is an essential point to make – as just because a person has  a particular religious belief – that being gay is wrong, for example, this does not have any more value than a persons right to marry, fall in love or have a relationships with someone of the same sex.

All schools have a responsibility to teach children about the world they live in and to remove any form of prejudice or discrimination. There are no outsiders in our schools – everyone is welcome.  

LGBTQ+ inclusive RSE:

This means that in the UK it is a legal requirement to ensure all schools are LGBTQ+ friendly and this something that all Ofsted inspections are required to uphold. This is not new it has been the case for 9 years. 


This legislation made it illegal for nurseries and schools to fail to protect LGBT people and their families. Not only this but all schools should deliver lessons that include stories and examples of diverse family structures and this includes same sex families. 

All families are different – some families have a mummy and a daddy, some families have a mummy and daddy but they live in separate houses and their children move between them. Some families have two mummies, a birth mother and a step-mother -and some have two mothers who live together.

Two men can fall in love and get married, just like two women or a man and a woman.

People have children in different ways. Some children have foster carers or are adopted to their forever families. 1-in-8 adoptions in the UK are to same sex couples. Two men, or two women can get married and adopt a child and give them a safe home. Families come in lots of shapes and sizes, but one thing they should have in common is they care and support each other and everyone feels safe.

Some children will grow up gay or bi-sexual and they need to know that it is ok. We don’t want any child regardless of their sexuality to grow-up thinking there is something wrong with them or with their family.

The new guidance for RSE merely continues these messages we have been legally obliged to respect for nearly 10 years. None of this is new. The only difference is now we have an official place to house these lessons – and an opportunity for every child, no matter what shape their family comes in to see them represented and respected in school.

There is absolutely no evidence that talking to children about the realities of the world they live in will make them gay. We are teaching children to not be afraid of difference and to be respectful of everyone, regardless…


What everyone should  know about HIV:

HIV Quiz –

Before you read the article below… see how much you already know…

  1. What is the symbol for Wold AIDS Day, that you may see people wearing? 
  2. What do the letters HIV stand for?
  3. What is AIDS?
  4. How is HIV passed on?
  1. Kissing?
  2. Spitting?
  3. Sneezing?
  4. sharing needles
  5. Coming in to contact with a discarded needle?
  6. unprotected sex
  7. pregnancy

5. What % of people living with HIV in the UK don’t know they are HIV+

6. How do you know if you have HIV?

At one time you could get your red ribbon anywhere, they seemed to be on every shop counter – these days the red ribbons that help to mark World Aids Day seem to have disappeared from public consciousness…2018AIDS

Back in the day there were lots of myths and misunderstandings around HIV, unfortunately, unlike the red ribbons these seem to still be a huge part of public consciousness… So let’s clear things up.

HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. It stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is important to recognise that HIV and AIDS are not the same thing. HIV is the virus – there is currently no cure, but we do have very effective treatments these days that keep the virus under control and the immune system healthy. In the UK HIV has been declassified from terminal to a chronic illness. This is because a person who is living with HIV who is on treatment can live a full, active and healthy life. In fact a resent study has proven that if you are medication – there is 0% risk of passing on the virus to a partner. 

A person living with HIV is said to have AIDS when their immune system is so weak it can no longer fight off disease it would normally cope with. 

If HIV is diagnosed early, and is treated most people with HIV will not develop AIDS, and if they do, with treatment they can recover (but they will still have HIV).

In 2013 only 0.3% of people with HIV developed AIDS.

HIV can be passed on in a number of ways, most commonly is through unprotected penetrative sex – either vaginal or anal. Sharing needles or drug injecting equipment or passed on from a HIV positive mother to their child, through birth or through breast feeding. HIV can not be passed on through saliva, kissing, coughing or coming into contact with a discarded needle. 

Around about 100,000 people are living with HIV in the UK and between 6000-7000 people are newly diagnosed each year. However around 25% of people living with HIV are unaware as they haven’t been tested. These are the people that are a risk.

If you have ever had unprotected sex – it is worth being tested. Often people will experience flu like symptoms when they are newly infected. This includes fever, sore throat. fatigue, diarrhoea, and loss of appetite. These symptoms will usually disappear aft a couple of weeks. And a person will appear healthy for years before it is obvious they are ill.  

If you think you have been exposed to HIV there is medication known as PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis)  you can take that may prevent the infection. However, in order for the medication to be affective it needs to be taken within 72hours of exposure. This can be obtained by visiting your nearest sexual health clinic or from A&E. PEP has to be taken for a month and can have nasty side effects – so is definitely no substitute for using a condom!

To get a free confidential test, visit your local sexual health clinic or ask your GP. Or you can order a home test kit by visiting

Sadly HIV stigma still exists in society, mainly due to ignorance. But HIV shouldn’t stop someone from working, living an active life, having a relationships or children. 


Brand New Training Breaking the Taboo – Talking to children 4-11 about RSE.

In Warwickshire we are lucky to have an evidence based comprehensive RSE programme that is available for schools – All About Me (what was previous known as Spring Fever before it was updated last Summer). 

However, some children need a little extra support – for various reasons including struggles around emotional literacy, family changes, or because they may be displaying low level Harmful Sexual Behaviours, or older children who may have SEND. 

This new training Breaking the Taboo is designed to support professionals that work with young children  on a 1-2-1 basis and shows how you can use the All About Me resources to shape your work. 

Working with small children around RSE can be daunting – what is age appropriate? This training is also designed for professionals that work with young people who who may present as having a lower emotional age due to SEND.


  • a detailed look at the healthy sexual development of infants and children
  • how to start age appropriate conversations about families, healthy relationships, personal boundaries and sex. 
  • Working with children that display Harmful Sexual Behaviours.
  • Puberty, body changes, private spaces,.
  • Emotional literacy.

To book a space on the course click here or visit:


After 18 years of waiting the new draft guidance for RSE is here… but was it worth the wait?

Thursday 19th July finally saw the release of the draft guidance and the opening of a 12 week consultation.36808125_307704133106228_8560364571095728128_n

The introduction by Damian Hinds begins… 

“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.” 

It would lead you believe that the guidance would be much less risk focused and actually highlight some of the very positive influences that new technologies have had on young people and their sexual relationships – as was highlighted in Brooks new research publication this week: “Digital Romance”digitalromance_aa4e6a90ba043d42f9b5d8a8b7cee576. However, when you review the learning objective for both primary and secondary, disappointingly there is no specific mention of the positive aspects of the internet or mobile technology or how it can help keep young people safe, help them to negotiate sexual boundaries, provide a new platform for difficult conversations or provide needed lifelines to vulnerable children who can seek help anonymously.

Indeed, there is still a massive lack of ‘sex positive’  messages in the new guidance – perhaps that was too much to hope for, despite the growing evidence of the benefits of a positive rather than a risk centred approach to RSE, and the calls by young people for information about pleasure and enjoying sex. The worry being that if we are not the ones to talk to young people about how to make sex a positive experience that is pleasurable for both parties – then they will continue to seek information from other sources, including online pornography as to how to have pleasurable sex. 

Indeed, the guidance seems to be a mix of very positive messages and evidence based practice, that is simply not supported by the compulsory aspects of the curriculum. Instead it is left up to schools to decide what is age appropriate and is relevant to their pupils.

This is no more apparent than in the policy decision to remove the ‘sex’ from RSE in primary. The guidance states:

The Department continues to recommend therefore that all primary schools should have a sex education programme tailored to the age and the physical and emotional maturity of the pupils […] Meeting these objectives will require a graduated, age-appropriate programme of sex education“

So despite the fact that the department recognises the importance of the inclusion of Sex education in primary – they are still not prepared to make it a compulsory part of the curriculum.

Indeed, there does feel like there is much in the guidance that is designed to appease those who fear we might take away children’s innocence if we answer their questions. Rather than making the argument for the evidence base, that shows by introducing these topics earlier, removes the stigma and awkwardness of discussing sex, making it instead just another topic of conversation – plus enables children to grow-up safer and in more positive relationships. There is a massive difference between innocence and ignorance.

Instead they are leaving these conversations up to schools to have with parents without any official support behind them from the guidance.

Indeed, this contradiction continues into the secondary programme as again the Relationship education remains compulsory, and yet parents retain the right to opt their teens out of the ‘sex’ part of the programme. How this will work in practice as the guidance states:

“Schools should develop programmes of teaching which prioritise effective delivery of the content, and do not need artificially to separate sex education and Relationships Education.”

So, practically how will this work? Will some children have to continually leave the classroom as discussion naturally move from relationships to sex and back and forth in this integrated subject? It is baffling. Especially in light of the fact that earlier this year it was officially recognised as a basic human right that children should have access to RSE as it is evidenced to keep them safe, regardless of their parent’s wishes. 

This has been partially recognised as children will be able to overrule their parents request to be removed but only after:

“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 make arrangements to provide the child with sex education during one of those terms.” 

Again, this seems to conflict with the earlier recognition that sex education is best delivered incrementally, building on previous messages year by year, which was stated earlier in the guidance…

There is much emphasis still on religious beliefs and protections there of. And despite the fact that it states at a number of points that RSE needs to be inclusive of LGBT issues and young people – these are often omitted in place for religious protections. For example: 

In all schools, when teaching these subjects, the religious background of all pupils must be taken into account when planning teaching, so that sensitive topics that need to be taught are appropriately handled. Schools must ensure they comply with the relevant provisions of the Equality Act (2010), under which religion or beliefs are protected characteristics. 

Gender and sexuality are also protected characteristics under the Equalities Act, and none are hierarchical in value, out scoring each other. How will this work in religious schools, whose values contradict with the law around LGBT marriage, relationships, gender identity, not to mention view around abortion and contraception. There is no support for schools as to how to manage this conundrum – other than to state that all schools need to make children aware of the law of the land…

Indeed, it is worrying that in appendix the only curriculum highlighted as good practice comes from Catholic Education – which instead highlights the role of God instead of including the words, consent, abortion, contraception, or same sex relationships.

Indeed, it is further worrying the continued emphasis on marriage – especially when this might not reflect young peoples families or their own life choices. There still seems to be the belief that a marriage provides a safer environment for children or for sex. This is not the case. Whilst abuse is mentioned in relationships, there still remains the emphasis on marriage regardless of how healthy the relationships may be.

In many regards the guidance is inclusive of LGBT and states that this should not be done in a one off lesson but should instead “that it is integral throughout the programmes of study”. Equally, the guidance seems to be inclusive of children in care or with alternative family structures, as the guidance states:

Families of many forms provide a nurturing environment for children. Care needs to be taken to ensure that there is no stigmatisation of children based on their home circumstances and needs, to reflect sensitively that some children may have a different structure of support around them, e.g. looked after children or young carers. 

This is a very positive move and yet again seems to contradict the aforementioned emphasis on Christian Marriage.

When it comes to the content of the Relationship Education in Primary, much of the content is very positive and include discussion around positive relationships, different types of families; importantly a really emphasis on emotional literacy and emotion health – which is very welcomed. There is also the inclusion of teaching consent and body autonomy. 

“that each person’s body belongs to them, and the differences between appropriate and inappropriate or unsafe physical, and other, contact.”

However, again there seems to be this reticence to specifically use the word consent which is omitted – even though this is clearly what we are talking about.

Equally, despite the fact that in Maintained schools they are required to teach the national curriculum for science. At key stages 1 and 2 this includes teaching about the main external body parts, there is still no mention of teaching children the correct names for their private parts under staying safe – despite the evidence that it helps to prevent sexual abuse and aids the disclosure of abuse. Indeed, we would like to see this included with the specific naming of vulva for girls (not vagina) to ensure we are giving children the correct names and not reducing female sexuality to merely reproduction which has been case for so long – which is the good practice we have here in Warwickshire.

When it comes to the Secondary guidance for RSE, much of the content is quite positive and certainly a step in the right direction. There is much emphasis on healthy relationships – in terms of both friendships and personal relationships, including same-sex relationships.

There seems to be a disproportionate reliance on the legal frameworks in regards to sex,  rather than exploring attitudes to sex. However, it will be interesting to see how this can be done when the law contradicts religious doctrines, especially regarding young people’s rights as stated in the guidance.

There is specific mention and inclusion of FGM in secondary programme, however this is omitted in the primary section – which is concerning as we know that many young girls that do experience FGM, do so during the transition between primary and secondary, in their prepubescent years. This should be included in both the primary and secondary curriculum. 

There is a similar state of affairs when it comes to menstruation, with much of the important emphasis on supporting young girls in high school, with little regard to those girls that might start early in primary school.

The onset of menstruation can be confusing or even alarming for girls if they are not prepared. As with education about puberty, programmes should include understanding of and preparation for menstruation, for all pupils. Schools should also make adequate and sensitive arrangements to help girls manage menstruation and with requests for sanitary protection.

On this point we would like to see a specific policy being required for school to sensitively manage young women’s menstruation – especially those who might be from poor or vulnerable families. Indeed, many schools lock toilets during lesson times, in an effort to manage behaviour, with little thought of how this may make it particularly difficult for young girls to change sanitary products if they need to during lessons.

As mentioned previously, there is no mention of pleasure in any aspect of the guidance or exploring attitudes or sexual values. There is no mention of preparing young people for a sexual relationship, including discussion of other types of sexual contact other than ‘reproductive sex’. Much of the focus on sex is again through the lens of risk rather than empowerment. Equally, there is again an omission of the positive aspects of the internet or social media to young peoples relationships or seeking help.

There is inclusion of discussion around pornography, even if it is implied rather stated specifically:

“sexually explicit material often presents a distorted picture of sexual behaviours, can damage the way people see themselves in relation to others and negatively affect how they behave towards sexual partners.”

However, it would be helpful if this widened to include discussion about the media as whole, such as reality TV shows such as Geordie Shore, Love Island and TOWIE, magazines such as HEAT magazine and the general press that promotes negative body images, fat and slut shaming and generally poor attitudes. It is easy to target pornography as the problem, however we are missing a trick if we do not talk about the media as a whole in shaping our attitudes to sex and relationships. 

Positively, there is a huge emphasis on young people’s emotional health and wellbeing. Encouraging young people to develop skill around emotional literacy and a positive body image. To explore how their emotional state might affect their behaviours and when to recognise that friends might need help and support. Much of this content is very welcome and we are pleased to see it included.

It is important that the guidance recognises that RSE should not be delivered in a tokenistic fashion, and instead require a whole school approach, where wider policies and practices reinforce the messages around inclusion, safeguarding, behaviour and respect for others. 

Whilst the guidance feels like a step in the right direction – it does ultimately feel a little safe by the Department of Education. I think many schools will feel vulnerable, trapped between knowing what they should do and what they feel supported to do. Many will feel isolated in dealing with difficult parents or religious groups. Many of the policies, are designed to appease more skeptical groups rather than following the evidence.

But it is definitely a start….

If you would like to read the guidance in full and have your say on the consultation… click here….

All About Me - Primary · Resources

Spring Fever, our primary school programme is set for a big change as it becomes All About Me…

You may be aware that we have been supporting schools to deliver the Spring Fever programme across the county for over 5 years and it has been well received by schools, parents, and most importantly the children. All about me

In September we are set to have over 100 schools running the programme across all year groups from reception to year 6. However, any programme that has been running for a length of time needs a spring clean… 

We are pleased to announce we have just updated the entire programme, which will be available for all existing schools to deliver from September.

The most obvious change will be the name.  We will be dropping the confusing title of Spring Fever and replacing it with All About Me.the gang

The new programme will still be based on the same ethos and evidence that supported the old Spring Fever material; however, we have the opportunity to incorporating much of the learning and evidence we have accumulated over the last five years.

Indeed, we have tied in much stronger links and reinforcement of the Key Messages from Warwickshire’s Protective Behaviours – Taking Care Programme and the NSPCC Pants rules.

The most exciting development will be a website especially designed to support parents and carers. Here they will find information about the programme, including information on every lesson delivered, samples of resources, as well as a section of FAQ to offer advice and to help answer their children’s questions, plus a list of helpful books.

Despite the fact the programme is a relationships and sex education programme, there is still very little ‘sex’ in the programme – and these lessons are surrounded by information around healthy relationships, self-esteem and emotional literacy. Indeed, one key change we have made is that all the lessons are pupil led, ensuring that children are only told the information they are ready for.

Finally, we know that by giving children this information, building on simple messages, year after year we can ensure that children grow up safe, with healthy relationships, better able to manage their emotions and most importantly to ask for help when they feel they need it.

To find out more click here

Youth conference

(Anti)Social Media? Youth Conference

Thank you to all of the schools that took part in this years Youth Conference (Anti)Social Media – especially all of the young people that threw themselves into the day whole heartedly. Hopefully you have received a feed back form asking you to let us know what you thought of the day – especially how we can make it better for next year.

However, I know a few schools have contacted us looking for this film clip showed at the event – so here it is….