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CIS Perspectives: Five steps to an effective health & well-being curriculum
28 JUNE, 2022
By Joanne Offer, Health and Well-being Committee Chair, St Michael’s International School, Kobe, Japan
Are you thinking of strengthening the health and well-being support in your primary school? Here are five steps we learned through our recent experiences at St Michael’s International School, Kobe, Japan.
Many of your school communities will be familiar with these contexts: Covid-19, being separated from loved ones, puberty, social media pressures, and acclimatising to a new culture … it’s no wonder that international primary schools are realising that a comprehensive health and well-being offering is crucial for their young learners.
So, we recently implemented a new Health and Well-being Curriculum with the aim of ensuring that children know how to be safe and healthy, how to develop positive relationships, and how to ask for help when it’s needed.
1. Buy-in is vital, 2. Tailor it, 3. Phase it in, 4. Be ready to deal with real and immediate needs and 5. Track it.
Our health and well-being journey actually started with a focus on comprehensive sex education; we realised that, in the online age, we needed to do more to address students’ needs than traditional puberty lessons had covered.
Pretty soon, we wanted to broaden our focus into a more encompassing Health and Well-being Curriculum, especially with Covid-19 on our doorstep.
Positive mental health—and strategies to cope when things get tough—needed to be front and centre in any curriculum we offered.
Therefore, we planned our Health and Well-being Curriculum using the UNESCO International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education as a starting point and with an additional focus on mental health, with objectives woven in from the International Primary Curriculum’s Health and Well-being Rubric.
We also took inspiration from UK and Australian schools’ Personal Social Health and Economic Education plans and tailored it to our unique situation in Japan.
Consistency for children is key, so we agreed on a vocabulary to be used by all staff at all times; scientifically accurate terminology that is age and developmentally appropriate and also sensitive to the backgrounds and beliefs of pupils, staff, and parents.
See the full article here.
CIS Perspectives: Eight solutions to adapt safeguarding & well-being curriculum for remote learning environments
14 September 2020
By Susie March and Linda Woolcock
As schools moved education online in response to Coronavirus, a sudden shift to home-based learning and concerns about students’ academic progress meant that key elements of some schools’ safeguarding and well-being education were paused or weakened. Concerns about delivering sensitive sessions in remote learning environments have also led to some topics being skipped this year.
At the same time, some safeguarding and well-being risks have increased for many children as a result of the virus and the changes we have had to make. These include, for example, online grooming and sextortion, exposure to harmful content online, economic hardship and instability, domestic abuse, loss and grief, uncertainty and disruption. The isolation of large numbers of children from school-based interactions has also deprived them of critical sources of support and hindered educators’ ability to identify students who are struggling or exposed to harm. The increase in disclosures that many schools have received after reopening their campus highlights these factors.
Given these risks, safeguarding and well-being education is more important than ever.
[The Coronavirus] has up-ended our present and scrambled messages from the future ... PHSE education has never been more vital”
Jonathan Baggaley, CEO of the PSHE Association
CIS Perspectives: Student well-being and high school transitions: Five big ideas in the context of the Coronavirus
The pandemic has brought uncertainty, loss and hardship to many students graduating from high school this year. In this post, we share five ‘big ideas’ that are emerging in transition programming in the context of the Coronavirus. We also share an overview of key findings from a recent survey of 134 high school counsellors based in 52 countries, plus an opportunity to be involved in a new CIS project to hear directly from students about how schools and universities can support their well-being in transition, and lots of links to resources and research.
Five big ideas
Transition is everything. This is true whether we’re grappling with remote working, planning student orientation, or supporting students with higher education decisions. There are common challenges for students, but travel and visa restrictions, and anxieties about well-being and accommodation are weighing on the minds of international students.
Dr Eleanor Parker and Susie March draw on their collective expertise and discussions from a recent CIS webinar—Key considerations for schools & universities during Coronavirus: How to support student transition to higher education—as they share some of the things emerging in transition programming in the context of the Coronavirus. (CIS members can watch the webinar in the CIS Community portal).
See the full article here.
Japan Council of International Schools
Implementing Comprehensive Sexuality Education through the lens of Child Protection: A workshop, Tokyo, run on 29-30 November 2019
Delivered in collaboration between Susie March Consulting and JCIS and hosted by the International School of the Sacred Heart, the workshop’s objective was to implement and enhance Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE). The two-day training course was open to member schools of the Japan Council of International Schools.
The course was designed for pastoral leads, teachers, school nurses and school counselors who have leadership roles in CSE, Pastoral Care, Health Education and Child Protection - and it developed the core knowledge and skills needed for a school’s CSE programme.
Beijing City International School
CSE: A YOUNG PERSON'S JOURNEY TO ADULTHOOD: Faculty training and parental engagement, Beijing, run on 23-25 October 2019
"For both children and adults, sexuality can be an awkward topic. Even to say or read the word "s-e-x" or discuss relationships can make people squirm. The fact that so many people avoid and find this subject uncomfortable is tantamount to its importance, and the sensitivity surrounding sexuality is representative of the need to be aware of and learn how to navigate this area from an early age.
Throughout the week of September 23, 2019, Susie March, a global Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) expert, came to BCIS to deliver a series of workshops to parents, community members, teachers, and students. These workshops focused on the complexity of young people growing up in a world surrounded by social media and the ubiquity of communications devices. CSE teaches young people how to make responsible and safe choices in relationships with others. It takes a look at human development throughout life, covering social, emotional, physical and spiritual development.
These workshops provided an extremely valuable opportunity for parents to become familiar with CSE and to engage with an expert in this subject area. BCIS is building upon its sexual safety campus infrastructure and curriculum by expanding CSE across the ES and SS, working with the Council of International Schools guidelines to best prepare students for adulthood. "Giving children and young people the tools to safeguard their health and wellbeing is as vital a part of their education as Math and English" – Susie March."
Link to the complete article on the BCIS website is here
2019 International School Counselor
Association Annual Conference: A keynote and series of workshops
"Counselors: The Heart of the School", 14-16 March 2019, Brussels, Belgium
School counselors are the heart of the school. The International School Counselor Association (ISCA) support and enhance the educational achievement of students through the delivery of curriculum, focused on student wellbeing. This year’s conference focued on building our capacity to lead and advocate in these areas.
To support ISCA's efforts in providing programs that address the wellbeing of the whole child, they inviteded Susie March to be their keynote speaker. During the conference Susie and Yoan Tranholm Reed, presented and ran workshops on..
How to introduce a comprehensive sexual education program in your school
Experiential teaching methods and creating a safe teaching environment
Values and attitudes towards Comprehensive Sexual Education
Aligning the standards of CSE, ISCA and Council of International Schools Accreditation
Parental engagement, a whole school approach
Susie March Visits Khartoum International Community School in Sudan - February, 2018
"Visiting CIS consultant, Susie March spent 3 days with the members of the KICS community last week. She met at length with the Child Protection Team on her first day before delivering two excellent presentations to parents on the 7th. Both presentations referred to the value of a comprehensive sexuality education curriculum as a prerequisite in guiding our young to face potential life skill challenges that include moral, ethical choices and decisions. Her underlying theme was how the digital world shapes our communication, social interactions and behaviours and how the adults need to catch up with its pace and the threats posed.
She led classes with students in Years 6/8/9/11/12/13 on various topics ranging from proactive safeguarding to sexual violence; all at appropriate developmental levels. The sessions were interactive and students were engaged and learning in a fun way. Students learned how to set personal boundaries and deal effectively with unwanted situations. Others were given a clear understanding of the semantics of CSE; most took away something in the way of knowledge, skills, values or attitudes needed to make informed choices about and for themselves.
On the PD day, Susie led a thought-provoking exercise with all staff on the Code of Conduct followed by a sobering session with Secondary staff on highly sensitive topics that can impact our young adults as they manoeuver through the social highway of adolescence.
Finally, Susie was able to share some insights into developing a solid CSE curriculum for KICS, advising on how we need to tailor it specifically to meet the unique blend of needs of our students and keep it culturally embedded for our special community."
Susie March in The IB Community Blog
"A child protection policy is as important as English and mathematics lessons”
21st July, 2016, in Thought Leadership
An integral part of a school’s child protection programme is sex and relationship education (SRE), according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Susie March, from Susie March Consulting, strongly agrees. She works with IB World Schools to develop SRE programmes, armouring students with relevant and up-to-date information that helps protect them from modern-day threats such as cyber bullying, online grooming and sexting, as well as sexual abuse by peers or those in a position of trust...
Up Close & Personal With: Susie March Sex & Relationship Specialist
June-July, 2016, Leadership Connector newsletter
What made you want to work in the international education area of Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) and Child Protection? "I began to move into a health promotion whilst in my role as a nurse working in sexual health, women's health and family planning. When my family moved from the UK to Germany my children attended the Munich International School. Initially I volunteered to assist with the delivery of certain aspects of the Health and Social studies program to middle school students. There was a clear need to develop the program, whilst this took place, the school assisted me to learn effective pedagogical practices. From those small beginnings, I have branched out to other schools within Europe. Over the years, the approach to SRE and Child protection has evolved. Previously the information was very scientific but now it's much more focused on relationships and how people interact. Science doesn't drive it anymore."
Working with the Council of International School's working party on International Child Protection, Susie collaborated to create a research paper focusing on implementing an effective child protection programme through sex and relationship education.
October, 2015, Spotlight newsletter.
Throughout the world, mainstream media messages containing sexualised images via television, web, mobile phones or pop videos are bombarding children and young people. At the same time, evidence of institutionalised sexual abuse and the growing sexualisation of children themselves has become a constant. In order to address this appalling trend, there has to be social change. We have a responsibility, as members of the international school community, to protect our children; to do this we require support from all stakeholders – schools, faculty, parents and, most importantly, our students.
There is a clear need to scale up a standards-driven, fully integrated, SRE programme which provides our students with relevant and up-to-date information to help them protect themselves in the modern world. This article discusses the challenges, the changes needed and how effective SRE should be delivered: at its best, a close partnership between parents, SRE professionals and a motivated, well- trained, faculty.