Sometimes we are asked how someone can start a career in relationships and sex education - and the truth is there is more than one route to working in the field.
Whatever route people end up taking into RSE, acet UK firmly believes that all young people deserve high quality - and accurate - relationships and sex education, from educators who have been specifically trained to cover the topic.
Accessing quality, accredited training in RSE provision should be a key part of your journey, but having passion for the subject and a heart for young people are also essential.
Our network of trained Esteem RSE educators come from a wide range of backgrounds, walks of life and job experiences.
Many people find themselves involved in providing RSE as part of a larger job description, whilst others specialise exclusively in RSE.
Here are some of the most common routes people take to becoming a ‘relationships and sex educator.'
The majority of our network is made up of youth workers who work full or part time for a charity or church.
Whilst working with local young people, they often find that the teenagers have specific questions about relationships and sexual health. They may also find that the young people are experiencing insufficient RSE at school. They see an opportunity to meet the needs of the young people, and support the work of schools, by being trained to complement the school based RSE programme as an outside speaker.
Our core 4 day training programme is ideal for upskilling a youth worker to take on this role. Click here to find out about our upcoming courses.
Sexual Health professionals
Some RSE educators move into this field from a sexual health career. They may have specialised as a sexual health nurse in a community clinic or perhaps worked as a school nurse.
They have rich and in-depth knowledge about the sexual health field and move into RSE educator roles with a passion to educate young people about this topic. If their work has been previously focused on providing one to one advice, they may seek out training in RSE specifically because they want to learn more about how to talk about RSE in the classroom setting, or because they want to know more about the less biological RSE topics they might not have been trained in.
Qualified secondary school teachers can make excellent RSE educators. They have spades of experience, expertise and training in how to create learning opportunities and work with young people.
However, many teacher training courses do not provide in-depth coverage of the relationships and sex education topic. Equally, if the teacher trained a while ago, they may have been taught information about RSE topics that was correct at the time but is now out of date.
Exclusively for qualified teachers, we can provide schools with a one-day training course to upskill the teaching team on the RSE topics they feel ill equipped to cover. Click here for more details.
Other trainers or caring professionals
There are many roles in the community that have contact with young people. Sports coaches, mental health workers, police officers, church leaders, life coaches, and many others sometimes see an opportunity to support young people around RSE topics, but lack the training to do the job well.
They might have skills in education or public speaking, or maybe great experience in one-to-one or group work, but they may not be formally equipped in providing RSE, so attend our training to develop these skills.
The passionate individual
Maybe they have a personal experience that is motivating them; maybe they studied a module related to RSE on a course; or maybe they have become interested in the topic due to their family’s experience of RSE. Whatever the reason, these passionate and motivated individuals might be fresh out of education or be currently working in a completely different field. Yet they are motivated to make RSE better for young people. They might have a passion for a specific topic within RSE or hold a more general interest, but they are looking to start something new. Completing our 4-day training can be a really helpful first step to something bigger.
Making sure your training is accredited
The above is not an exclusive list, and more than one example, or none, may apply to you.
Currently in the UK, there is no standard way to get into the RSE field, and there is a shocking absence of nationally agreed minimum training standards. There are many great RSE providers in the UK but sadly there are also some workers falling short of what young people need, providing either out of date or biased content.
With this lack of national standards, we wanted to try and do better by partnering with the Open College Network to provide some assurance of the standard of training we provide. People who complete our 4-day courses have the option to submit evidence to gain a level 4 accreditation in relationships and sex education. This accreditation requires learners to demonstrate work of a quality equivalent to first year of university study. Learners are expected to show high quality work - but the workload volume is manageable.
This accreditation can be very helpful for people starting out in the RSE field, as it helps schools and other youth groups have confidence that the educator knows what they are talking about.
Beyond the OCN accreditation and membership of the Esteem network, another source of recognition for new RSE workers is to apply to become a member of the Sex Education Forum. This is probably the most widely known RSE focused network and being a member can be an additional help in people recognising your abilities.
I've got the training, now what?
Once you have been trained in RSE, the next step is to start working with young people. We find that the easiest way to do this is to partner with a local RSE or youth charity that is already working in your area. If they already provide RSE, they might be looking for volunteers or even paid sessional workers to help them provide RSE. If they do not currently provide RSE, we find many charities are open to the possibility - but you may need to have a few meetings with team leaders and trustees to get the ball rolling.
Another option is to work directly with schools as a guest speaker. Many schools have robust policies for bringing in outside speakers to supplement their school RSE provision. After being trained in RSE, volunteering with a local school is a great way to grow your experience. When working as a volunteer for a school you will be working under their policies and procedures and should complete a DBS (background check) with the school before starting working.
However, if you want to make RSE a paid source of income and you don’t want to work with a charity (or can’t find one locally to work with), you may need to set yourself up as a self- employed educator. The HMRC has some advice on working for yourself here but you may also find it helpful to carry our broader research how to do this properly before taking this step.
Working for another organization or charity, volunteering directly with schools, or working for yourself all have their own advantages and disadvantages and it’s important to find the right fit for you.
Whatever route you take, whatever background you come from, and however you end up working in the field, young people will appreciate you taking the time to help them make sense of the wide, and sometimes complicated, topic of relationships and sex education.