Working with Parents
Parents are their child’s primary educator, including being the conveyor of both explicit and implicit messages around the topic of sex, sexuality, gender, norms and family values. Therefore, it is important to engage the parental body in CSE, as this will support the child’s learning at school and develop learning within the family unit.
Parents often need reassurance that their primary role is not compromised by CSE at school. They need the opportunity to familiarise themselves with CSE programmes taught to their child, learn about the comprehensive and developing nature of sexuality education and the protective and safeguarding measure attached to CSE while equipping themselves with knowledge, skills and tools to realise their own role.
When parents are empowered to become proactive CSE educators, they can support their child in building a safe and shared language to talk about bodies, relationships, and sexual health. This is key to enabling children and young people to discuss their concerns and make good choices as they become more independent.
The role of parents in CSE is recognised in all related standard-setting documents yet, in practice, there are several obstacles that make parental engagement in the subject a challenging task. Many parents have poor experiences of CSE as children, possess little knowledge of CSE, have low confidence in delivering meaningful education themselves, or feel restricted by cultural norms, faith and values systems to openly engage with their children about the multifaceted subject of CSE.
Despite the recognised importance of parental engagement in CSE, the cultural barriers and fear of undermining the parental role often result in schools being cautious in developing parental engagement opportunities, and it remains one of the most challenging and least explored and managed areas of school CSE.
International school communities carry the added challenge of engaging with a culturally diverse parent body and possibly conflicting parameters, laws and regulations determined by the local context. This positions parental engagement in CSE within international schools in a unique situation which requires a professional, considerate and sensitive response.
SMC offers an expert role in assisting schools with parental engagement in CSE in all phases. We have specially trained and educated consultants with experience and knowledge of the international parent community’s needs for understanding and appreciating their child’s CSE.
Foundation phase: The parental body are invited to hear about CSE programmes, participate in focus groups and learn about the framework under which CSE is developed and delivered within the context of each individual school.
Sustain and Review phases: Regular parent events will continue to offer information, support and learning to the parental body.