‘My Mate Fancies You’ – How it Meets the New Guidance and Parents’ Right to Withdraw
This blog aims to put you at ease when it comes to what our My Mate Fancies You programme covers, how it fits into the new Relationship and Health Education guidance and where things currently stand around whether parents have the right to withdraw their child from puberty education (spoiler – they don’t).
May 18, 2021
We understand that going through puberty is an exciting new chapter for young people. Our My Mate Fancies You programme helps schools to prepare children for this next chapter. This great addition to school’s puberty education has been used in schools for over 25 years. This blog aims to put you at ease when it comes to what our My Mate Fancies You programme covers, how it fits into the RSHE (Relationship, Sex, Health Education) Guidance and where things currently stand around whether parents have the right to withdraw their child from puberty education (spoiler – they don’t).
As you are probably aware the sexual health aspect is not compulsory for primary schools but the relationships and health education parts are. Specifically, the education that is provided by our puberty programme, My Mate Fancies You, falls under the Physical Health and Mental Wellbeing aspect of the guidance. In this section of the Guidance, it states that by the end of primary school, pupils should know:
- Key facts about puberty and the changing adolescent body, particularly from age 9 through to age 11, including physical and emotional changes.
- About menstrual wellbeing including the key facts about the menstrual cycle.
My Mate Fancies You helps children and young people to understand transitions and puberty (including the menstrual cycle), reassure them that it is natural and not something to worry about, as well as advise them where to go for support. It teaches them about the range of physical and emotional changes that take place in the adolescent body during puberty, we use terms such as ‘penis’ and ‘vulva’ when talking about body changes but do not refer to sex, contraception or anything relating to sexual relationships. So back to the parents’ request to withdraw. Let’s start with what the new government guidance states.
Parents have the right to request that their child be withdrawn from some or all of sex education delivered as part of statutory RSE. Before granting any such request it would be good practice for the headteacher to discuss the request with parents and, as appropriate, with the child to ensure that their wishes are understood and to clarify the nature and purpose of the curriculum. Schools will want to document this process to ensure a record is kept.
Good practice is also likely to include the headteacher discussing with parents the benefits of receiving this important education and any detrimental effects that withdrawal might have on the child. This could include any social and emotional effects of being excluded, as well as the likelihood of the child hearing their peers’ version of what was said in the classes, rather than what was directly said by the teacher. Although the detrimental effects may be mitigated if the parents propose to deliver sex education to their child at home instead.
This process is the same for pupils with SEND. However there may be exceptional circumstances where the headteacher may want to take a pupil’s specific needs arising from their SEND into account when making this decision.
The approach outlined above should be reflected in the school’s policy on RSE.
There is no right to withdraw from Relationships Education or Health Education.
Therefore, as My Mate Fancies You falls under the Relationships and Health Education (specifically the section on Physical Health and Mental Wellbeing) this means that parents cannot withdraw their children from this.
Schools should of course have already consulted with parents around the content they aim to teach and have open communication about their puberty education however parents to do not have the right to withdraw their children from learning about puberty.
We hope that this information has been helpful, please find the link to the full document on the right to withdraw here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationships-education-relationships-and-sex-education-rse-and-health-education/introduction-to-requirements
For more information on our ‘My Mate Fancies You’ programme, visit our page: https://www.loudmouth.co.uk/programmes/programme/virtual-my-mate-fancies-you