Forming a Parents RSE Lobby Group in Schools & Questions Parents Can Ask When Meeting with the Head Teacher etc
Parents need to know their rights and in the draft guidelines for RE/RSE the government have placed a lot of emphasis on, and have strongly urged schools to involve parents at every stage of RE/RSE policy and curriculum development and implementation.
Most schools however won’t tell you this – either because they themselves don’t know or because it’s more work for them! So as parents you need to be proactive and approach the school. This will be much easier and more effective if you form a group with other like-minded parents and devise an approach to lobby the school and ensure you have your say in what and how RE/RSE is taught.
There will be many parents from all backgrounds who are unhappy about RE/RSE, so find parents who share your concerns, have a meeting and agree on a strategy to approach and then work with the school. You can then arrange a meeting with the head and also with the governors and ask to become involved at every stage of RE/RSE implementation.
Many schools will be collaborative and the best outcome is that parents and school can work together in a mutually beneficial way. However, there may be schools that are more resistant or who see engaging with parents as extra work – in such cases you can remind the schools that as parents it is your right to become involved with the school on RE/RSE matters. Keep approaching them until you get a response and they involve you in the process.
Below are some suggested questions you can ask and things you can do to begin with:
RE/RSE Policy Development
• Ask who is leading on RE/RSE and ask to meet them.
• When are they planning on drawing up the RE/RSE policy?
• Ask how parents can get involved?
• If you get vague responses then ask further questions to elicit details e.g. So when will you begin drafting the policy? How will you inform us? When will you know who’s leading it?
• Arrange another meeting to get further details etc.
• Have they decided on what resources will they use?
• How will they ensure parents are involved and consulted in choosing the resources?
• Suggest parents are given the option to do research and select resources themselves.
• Suggest parents help make some of the resources.
• N.B. It’s essential to get involved in this as it’s often the resources used and way a topic is taught that is more of the problem than the actual topic being taught itself.
• Emphasise that you do not want graphic or ‘cartoon porn’ images to be used. Say it’s also against your religion to look at nude pictures.
• Explain images become imprinted on a child’s mind and affect the mental wellbeing and behavior, so the school have carefully consider what resources they use.
• Do they plan to use external organisations to help deliver RE/RSE? If so which ones and then ask to look into them to see if you as parents agree.
• Express concern if any of these organisations appear to be pushing their own agenda or ideology.
• If teachers are sent on training – ask which organisation they are being trained by.
• Ask who is going to teach RE/RSE to your child and ask to meet them.
• Ask to be kept informed by letter or email at each stage or term of what your child will be taught and ask to be shown resources and lesson plans.
• Ask to sit in on and observe an RE/RSE lessons (not sure if they’ll agree but no harm in asking)
• If any parents have expertise then suggest they volunteer to teach aspects of RE/RSE
• Ask how in the teaching of RE/RSE the school propose to take religious views into account?
• Ask how they plan to introduce or teach LGBT issues – will it be integral to school? If so how? Explain your religious view on this and ask how they will take this into consideration.
• N.B. The government have stated that schools have to be sensitive to religious beliefs.