Brighton and Hove City Council: engaging with parents

The council’s personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education service, which is funded by public health, has produced a detailed timetable setting out what schools need to do and what they can expect from the PSHE service. This case study is an example of the many pro-active and positive approaches which local authorities are taking to support inclusive relationships education, relationships and sex education (RSE).


Key points

  • Brighton and Hove’s PSHE service has created a timetable for schools to follow as they work towards statutory RSE.
  • It involves tips and advice on carrying out parent engagement.
  • Training is also being offered as well as support to develop the curriculum.

Brighton and Hove has a strong track record when it comes to RSE teaching. But it is still making sure no stone is left unturned as it prepares for the introduction of statutory RSE with a particular stress being placed on engaging with parents.

What was done

The council’s PSHE service, which is funded by public health, has produced a detailed timetable setting out what schools need to do and what they can expect from the PSHE service.

The head of the service, which also incorporates three seconded PSHE lead teachers, said: “Each year we set ourselves a core theme to focus on. Otherwise you can get dragged into lots of different issues and not have an impact.

“We have looked at mental health and drug, alcohol and tobacco education in recent years, but this year we knew implementing statutory RSHE needed to be the focus.

“We know our schools are delivering great RSHE, but this is an opportunity to review and improve what is happening, with a focus on engaging with parents and carers.”

The timetable sets out three or four steps during each term throughout the 2019/20 academic year. In the autumn this includes a focus on leadership, raising awareness among school staff and beginning engagement with parents and carers.

To help, the PSHE service has been running some briefing sessions with head teachers and governors in both primary and secondary schools. A power point has also been produced that schools can use with staff and governors.

But it is parent engagement activities that the council is particularly keen for schools to get involved with.

Why?

The head of the PSHE service said: “Even though we have been delivering what is contained in statutory Relationships Education for some time, it is still a contentious issue for some.

“We have to be aware of that, listen to concerns, provide reassurance and think about how we can adapt our practice, while ensuring statutory content is delivered in a way in which all children and young people feel safe and see themselves and their families represented.”

To ensure this engagement is a thorough and comprehensive process, the council suggests schools can carry out two engagement activities – one in the autumn term and one in the summer.

In the autumn term, the PSHE service will provide a statutory policy template for schools to use to get the conversation going and tools to help them engage, including how to engage with faith communities and families with English as an additional language.

This will then lead to a review by each school of its policy and curriculum to reflect what is in the statutory RSE guidance and ahead of an engagement exercise about curriculum content in the summer term.

“There are a few ways schools can do this – they can do it through coffee mornings, workshops or after-school meetings. We will be here to support them. We are already meeting with faith leaders locally to discuss what the changes are all about.

“We will also be continuing with our termly PSHE coordinator network meetings. Although the one in the summer term will be a conference where we will invite a wider group of teachers.”

What else is happening?

The push does not stop there. Once the statutory RSE lessons start in September 2020 schools will be asked to monitor what is happening and then carry out an evaluation towards the end of the year

“We will provide the tools to do this. It will be a big piece of work. We hope there will be guidance nationally on how to assess the learning outlined in the statutory guidance. But if there isn’t we will work with our schools on measuring progress and the impact of the curriculum.”

The council is also developing period positive practice in partnership with a national menstruation education researcher.