RSHE Consultation at William Torbitt Primary School

RSHE Consultation at William Torbitt Primary School

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A letter from parents concerned with the proposed RSHE curriculum:

Dear Sir or Madam

Thank you for the update provided via ParentMail on the 17th of September 2021 in relation to the RSHE consultation.

Some parents were able to attend and appreciated the opportunity to raise their concerns and questions. However, there are many other parents who could not attend due to work commitments coupled with parents who may not understand the implications of the topic as English is not their first language.

While it is encouraging that a consultation is taking place, many parents feel that it has been a rushed process when there was ample time to progress in a more open and consultative manner.

The overarching concern is with the content being proposed by William Torbitt for the RSHE curriculum not being age appropriate.

Regarding some of the points raised:

·         Can the full syllabus (lesson plans and resources) be sent to/published online for parents to read in full?

The Department for Education guidance on Parental Engagement on Relation Education states that “Ideally, whichever method is used, schools would show parents the resources they will use and set out sequences of teaching.” (p12).

If there is a copyright issue with publishing materials online, then there are other ways of sharing such as through Zoom or MS Teams calls so parents can get a clear idea of the content.

·         Are children aged 6+ ready to be exposed to pictures of private parts in the same class (vulva/penis)

This is a sincere concern from a sizeable proportion of parents. Looking back at our own experiences in school, such vocabulary or imagery did not come into play until secondary school and not until the latter part, i.e., from year 9 onwards. Many of the parents feel completely uncomfortable for their children to be exposed to such material from such an early age.

Children always ask questions on topics (particularly images) they have learned about in school and are likely to search for terms and do further ‘research’ on topics online.

William Torbitt has indicated they will be providing training for parents on how to respond to such questions. We would like details of the contents of this training and the timeline.

·         Young children will try to search terms they are taught on the computer, parents cannot monitor children on the time on their devices

Many parents are not tech savvy enough to set up filters and child settings on devices that can access the internet. Again, what, if any training will be provided by William Torbitt to parents to manage situations that arise following these lessons in school that would not likely otherwise occur?

·         Do not associate sexual intercourse with ‘love making’ - children are curious and teaching them about sex will make them want to explore sex before it is legal

Whatever the terminology used, the problem is with exposing children to these terms in an official school setting. This will then lead to questions being asked. Some parents and families are quite conservative due to cultural or religious reasons when it comes to such subjects, how will they handle the situation when their child enquires at home?

·         Can the school adopt the NSPCC safeguarding policy ‘PANTS’

We feel the response to this question is incorrect and in fact the NSPCC is sufficient to meet the requirements of the new RSHE curriculum. The naming of body parts is non statutory and there is flexibility in delaying this till puberty.

Many parents feel that there are far too many issues with the RSHE content being taught/proposed at this level. We feel the subject matter is more suited to older children and can be taught at secondary school as it has been done previously.

We understand that children can pick up terminology from older siblings or parents and gossip between themselves, but it is completely different when they are officially taught in a classroom. Using a classroom-based approach and officially teaching them about body parts including images will normalise adult themes which we feel is completely inappropriate for their age group. We feel that referring to ‘private parts’ is more adequate at this stage.

As parents we trust the school in making the right decisions when it comes to the welfare of our children.  However, the concerns that we have as parents regarding the proposed RSHE curriculum and in particular the Jigsaw syllabus (from what we know) far outweigh any positives from the learning that may be achieved and that it is just too early on in our children’s learning progression.

We feel that the focus within this age range should be on building a solid foundation for Maths and English that will benefit them as they move on to secondary school and beyond. We strongly feel The RSHE syllabus is extracurricular and not essential i.e., they will not lose out on anything if they are not taught these subjects at this stage.

Many of us have friends and family whose children are attending local schools in Redbridge and surrounding Boroughs. Several parents have confirmed that their schools have decided to completely remove syllabus elements of the curriculum that refer to sexual terms and imagery from being taught following consultation with parents like us. Examples of such schools include:

Cranbrook Primary School

Fullwood Primary School

Barley Lane Primary School

Mayespark Primary School

Highlands Primary School

Loxford School

As parents of children attending William Torbitt, we need a more in-depth consultation process that takes our concerns into account. We feel that the consultation that has taken place has felt more informative in nature rather than consultative. Whether it is the Jigsaw syllabus or anything else, we as parents have a right to know what sexual material will be taught to our children and whether this is appropriate for them or not.

We look forward to your response.

Kind regards,

Concerned Parents

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