Home partnerships

 

Overview

Relationships and sexuality education (RSE) is a shared responsibility between parents/carers, schools and the community and a great opportunity for all to work together to promote positive attitudes, behaviours and development of important life skills.

Home is the first place a child learns important health messages, beliefs and values that will lay the foundations for their relationships and sexual development. Parents, carers and other significant adults in a child’s life are essential partners with schools in ensuring that children are given accurate, reliable and appropriate health information in a supportive environment. Young people’s perceptions and behaviours are greatly influenced by family and community values, social norms and conditions, and media so the cooperation and support of families needs to be sought from the outset and regularly reinforced.

GDHR recognises parents as the primary sexuality educators of their children. School programs aim to build upon home education and support young people to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes to make informed choices about their relationships and sexual health.  

Most parents support sexual health education in schools, as long as they are informed about what is covered. Research shows that parents want a partnership approach and would like teachers to have specialist training in this area.1 The Department of Health funds Curtin University to manage The RSE Project which offers free professional development to all WA teachers. This includes a two day PD with paid teacher relief and a number of after school workshops. See Professional development for a current list of training opportunities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ways to help strengthen partnerships with parents and carers

  • Offer ‘take-home activities’ that encourage students to continue discussions at home with parents or other trusted adults. (Suggestions for 'take home activities' can be found within the learning activities on GDHR.)

  • Offer after school sessions for parents and children. Invite the school health professionals to come along and meet the parents and explain their role in the school.

  • Offer a parent workshop to inform parents of the content and resources that will be used in the program. These can be facilitated by school staff and/or external providers. See Agencies and programs for a list of possible providers.

  • Invite parents to a lesson presented by the students where they can teach the parents the things they have been learning in class.

  • Invite students to a P&C meeting to run one of the GDHR activities with the committee so that they can see the content and resources used in the lessons.

  • It is important to emphasise to parents that the primary concern of relationships and sexuality education is to promote the safety and wellbeing of children and young people. Ensure parents are aware that RSE covers a broad range of topics that should be taught right from birth such as: protective behaviours; emotional literacy; self-esteem and resilience; and respectful relationships. It is not just about puberty and sex. 

  • Reassure parents that comprehensive RSE programs have been found to:

    • increase young people's confidence and ability to make informed decisions

    • delay first experience of sexual intercourse

    • increase safer sex practices

    • reduce risk taking

    • provide opportunities for young people to learn and discuss relationships and sexual health issues outside the home in a safe, supportive environment.2

  • Keep parents informed by sending home letters about the RSE program you will be conducting in your school. The following sample letters can be used and adapted for your school:

  • Send copies of Talk Soon. Talk Often: a guide for parents talking to their kids about sex home for parents. WA schools can order these books for free. As the book provides age and stage appropriate information for children 0 to 18 years, it is useful to send these booklets out to parents when their child starts at your school. Links to the electronic version can be added to your school website and newsletters.

Frequently asked questions

See the Parent FAQs section for answers to questions such as:

  • Do teachers need to inform parents they are implementing relationships/sexual health education with their class?

  • Should boys and girls be separated for puberty and sexual health education?

  • Can children be withdrawn from lessons?

Parents may also find the Student FAQs section useful for answering some of the 'tricky' questions that may get asked at home and school.

Research and consultations

Parents' attitudes to sexual health education in WA schools: In 2008 consultations were held with the parents of primary and secondary aged school children in metropolitan and country WA. Parents were asked about the ways they currently approached educating their children about sex, reproduction, sexuality and relationships, and the kind of support needed to assist them to more effectively communicate with their children about these topics. Parents were also asked about school sexual health education programs, the role of schools and teachers in the provision of these programs, and parent engagement with the school regarding this particular type of health education program.

In 2018, further parent consultations were held in Perth, Geraldton and Bunbury to update the Talk Soon. Talk Often resource. The new edition is due for release in September 2019.

References

  1. Dyson S. (2010). Parents and sex education: parent’s attitudes to sexual health education in WA schools. Melbourne: La Trobe University.
  2. UNESCO. 2018. International technical guidance on sexuality education: an evidence-informed approach. France: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.