Sex and relationships is one of those topics that has given teachers many a sleepless night, especially when faced with a chatty Year 6 class! Here are three things that have helped me, which I hope might make the process a little easier for others.
- Use social media to start a conversation
With the widespread use of technology amongst Primary-age children, sex and relationship education now has to account for internet-savvy classes. For example, a key safeguarding issue is staying safe when on apps, which can be (and are) widely used by KS2 children, despite having age restrictions.
I’ve always found that Year 6 children love discussing social media, and hence it provides a great hook to begin discussing the related SRE topics. These including staying safe online and the rise of ‘sexting’. The NSPCC has some great advice about talking to children about these issues.
- Become comfortable about terminology
One of the most original ways I saw SRE being taught was when I observed a very experienced teacher introducing the topic of puberty to a group of Year 6 boys (classes had been split by gender for this lesson). He began the lesson by asking the class for every word and slang phrase for the male and female body parts and wrote each one down on the board! Not only did this serve as a brilliant icebreaker for a group of apprehensive children, but was also a great way of getting a lot of the silliness and embarrassment out in the open and out of the way at the start of the lesson. It simultaneously provided a great opportunity to address misconceptions about terminology from the get-go.
- Create a space for questions
Another activity that I’ve found to be effective when addressing misconceptions is allowing the class to anonymously write questions down before or after the lesson. This way the teacher can answer questions directly, or research issues with the class in time for the next session. You’d be astonished at what students were too afraid to ask in public! Make sure to remind classes that the questions are anonymous, and of course follow your school’s safeguarding policy should any concerns arise as a result of a particular question.
The government has recently published the results of its 2018 SRE Consultation. Whilst awaiting publication of guidance in line with this consultation, the government’s SRE Guidance from 2000 (which you can find here) provides some useful advice and tips.
VotesforSchools provides weekly lessons that address often sensitive and topical issues - like many topics in SRE - that can be debated and discussed in the classroom. Check out the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.