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    Marc Baggott is the Programme Coordinator for Straight Talking Peer Education (West Midlands). He is a former teacher; teaching in both primary and secondary schools. He is also a former Taekwondo instructor. Marc has a passion for promoting both wellbeing and health in schools to help students feel more confident.

    Schools feel the pressure to prepare students for passing exams, placing a huge emphasis on academic subjects to increase the levels of reading, writing, and arithmetic attainment. However, schools have the responsibility to prepare students for life outside of school. Social education, health education, and understanding the importance of wellbeing are intrinsic for preparing students for the transition into young adulthood. Most schools face an overloaded timetable and budget constraints, often non-statutory subjects (such as PSHE) can be overlooked. However, the change in the PSHE curriculum states that Relationships and Sex Education will be compulsory in all secondary schools from September 2020.
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    Teachers are beginning to prepare for teaching RSE to students through additional training and CPD opportunities. Despite the extra training, some teachers still feel anxious covering topics such as sex education, healthy relationships, and CSE due to the intimate nature of these subjects. The big question facing a lot of educators seems to be ‘how do you teach Relationships and Sex Education successfully?’ To answer this we have to think about what is best for the students and how we can tailor the learning to their needs to make sure they retain what is taught.

    Firstly, as educators, it is important to let our students know that we do not have all the answers when it comes to RSE. Students see the teacher as an authoritative figure, admitting you may not have all the answers when it comes to sexual health makes you seem more relatable. Most of the content will be new to teachers, so it is almost like you are learning with the students. Secondly, the key to good RSE is based on good discussion. Most students will be curious, they will have questions, misconceptions, and they will be curious about this “taboo knowledge” that we call Sex Education. Plan activities that lead to a discussion, don’t be quick to shut down talk, students may not have the vocabulary to articulate the points in the correct way. Finally, make learning fun! Students learn more when they are enjoying the subject matter. Plan interesting lessons, engage the support of external provisions to highlight certain topics in a new way, reflect on past learning and have a clear path of progression so students have access to RSE throughout their journey in school.
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    PSHE is important for preparing students mentally and socially for the world outside of school. A rounded coverage in RSE topics equips students with knowledge and awareness to make better life decisions. For example, teaching students about the difficulties of teenage pregnancy and young parenthood helps them to think realistically about whether having a baby young is the best choice or to wait until they are older and more financially stable before they make that commitment.

    Straight Talking Peer Education offers workshops for secondary school students that help to reinforce learning within the PSHE curriculum. We accomplish this through the power of peer education hiring former teenage parents to deliver workshops and sharing their personal stories about the realities of teenage parenthood. This model has a double impact; first, the pupils receive RSE learning. Secondly, teenage parents receive employment opportunities and job skills. We offer sessions on the implications of teenage pregnancy/young parenthood, signs of healthy/unhealthy relationships, the impact of sending explicit messages via text/social media, and awareness around the grooming cycle. We are also trialing a new session into awareness around gang affiliation and knife crime.

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    If you would like to find out more about our sessions visit; www.straighttalking.org for more information/contact details for booking sessions for your school, sixth form, and youth clubs.

    PSHE is important for preparing students mentally and socially for the world outside of school. A rounded coverage in RSE topics equips students with knowledge and awareness to make better life decisions. Straight Talking Peer Education offers workshops for secondary school students that help to reinforce learning within the PSHE curriculum.
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