As RSE Day approaches, Sadie, one of Beyond’s very own RSE content writers, has taken the time to interview the organiser of RSE Day. The theme for 2021 is ‘Faces’. This could refer to the many different faces of people who we have relationships with, how we see and portray ourselves to others, or how expression and emotion might be linked to RSE. The idea is that however we might interpret this theme, it gets a conversation going around RSE. So, let’s uncover a bit more about the founding face of RSE Day. Catherine Kirk joins us on the fourth annual RSE Day to tell us more about the day itself and why RSE is so crucial in our schools.
Sadie: Hello, Catherine. Thank you for talking to us on what must be a very busy week for you! Let’s dive straight in with the questions…
Where did your passion for RSE begin?
Catherine: I began my career in theatre-in-education and spent many years creating and delivering PSHE-based drama workshops to children and young people in schools and other settings across Nottinghamshire. It was during this time I really saw how vital PSHE is in helping children and young people explore pertinent issues, learn key facts and develop skills to keep safe, form healthy relationships, and make informed choices. In 2000 I was given the responsibility of rolling out the previous DfE SRE (as it was then) guidance to schools and that was it, I was hooked! I’ve been involved in some wonderful work over the past 21 years and have met some amazing teachers who with passion and enthusiasm have taken this work forward in their schools. I feel so lucky to have spent the last 8 years working for Nottingham City Council, supporting our wonderful schools to provide the best possible RSHE to children and young people.
S: Wow, what a creative start to a fantastic career in RSE.
And why do you think RSE is so important?
C: Oh, where to start?! Relationships are the foundation of everything in life, whether that be with friends, families, carers, educators, partners or work colleagues or others. RSE enables children and young people to know what makes a healthy relationship, identify abusive behaviours and seek help when needed. It gives them the opportunity for them to explore and discuss relevant issues, consider dilemmas and identify ways to minimise risks. RSE is vital, it teaches the skills needed for life and supports informed and healthy decision-making. What’s important is that we all recognise our role in RSE, as a teacher, a parent, a faith leader, a politician, a friend, or other – we all teach children and young people so much whether through planned teaching, impromptu discussions, or how we interact with them and others – we are role models and we must value this responsibility.
S: We couldn’t agree more here at Beyond. Good RSE is so important for young people to live happy and healthy lives.
So why did you start RSE Day?
C: RSE Day began as an opportunity for schools in Nottingham to celebrate their good practice in RSE and to renew enthusiasm and profile for the subject. RSE should be delivered all year so the day was never intended to be the time when all RSE is delivered, it is a celebration, a time to reflect and share. Back in 2018 RSE was not a statutory part of the curriculum however many schools in Nottingham recognised the importance of the subject and already prioritised this as part of their provision. The first day was so successful with many schools in Nottingham and further afield taking part. I remember being in tears on that first RSE Day when I saw a photo that one of our schools had shared…it was an aerial shot of all the children in the school holding a piece of bunting that showed their family. It was totally mind-blowing the effort that schools made to celebrate healthy relationships education and really reinforced for me the need for RSE Day. Even in that first year we had interest from around the country and so it seemed fitting that in 2019, RSE Day became a national celebration day.
S: What a wonderful moment. And it’s fantastic that schools across the country have shown so much passion and creativity around the subject.
What is your favourite thing about RSE Day?
C: There are so many things I enjoy about the day, it is always amazing to hear the pings on our social media accounts as schools, organisations and individuals share their good practice, activities and thoughts. There’s a real feeling of community on the day, that we are collectively celebrating the great work that is happening to ensure children and young people receive effective RSE. There are so many ways that people can celebrate RSE Day, whether in schools, organisations, homes, faith settings, and so on – people and organisations can engage in a way that is meaningful for them. My absolute favourite thing is seeing how children and young people are involved in RSE Day, all the lovely photos that are shared, and knowing the impact this will have on their future lives. Last year, as many children were schooling at home, I was especially moved by how many families joined in with the celebrations, sharing their children’s work on social media along with the schools and organisations.
S: So moving forward, how do you see RSE Day developing in the next 10 years?
C: RSE Day has grown significantly since 2018, with more and more schools and organisations celebrating each year. I would like RSE Day to remain a focal point in the year when people can reflect on their RSE, share good practice and plan creative RSE learning opportunities for children and young people. I hope it continues to be fun and that all involved in the day take something positive from it. I’d like to ensure that everyone feels they can get involved in whatever role they play in RSE, whether as a parent, a teacher, an organisation, a faith leader and so on. And, most importantly, that it positively impacts on the knowledge, awareness and skills of children and young people to help them to lead healthy and happy lives.
S: And finally, what’s your favourite RSE topic to teach and why?
C: I love teaching RSE and have done so for many years. I teach at both primary and secondary level and this really helps me to bring real-life experience when training teacher colleagues. My favourite topic is puberty. It’s so important that children receive effective education in this area so they can manage the physical and emotional changes of puberty effectively. I love to be creative in my approach to teaching, using lots of engaging activities that children both enjoy and learn from. I am always so impressed with the thoughtful comments and questions that children share.
Looking to cover RSE Day 2021 in class? You can find Beyond’s RSE Day resources right here. We’ve included our dedicated RSE Day resource below, too!
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