Since the early days of acet UK, education in schools has been a key part of our work. Originally focusing on HIV, we now offer comprehensive relationships and sex education (RSE) through our Esteem programme.
Besides running sessions with young people ourselves, we train others to become specialist RSE educators and provide them with high quality materials. Whilst the majority of the people we train are youth workers, more and more secondary schools are asking us to train their teachers.
With increasing pressure on school budgets and timetables, many teachers find themselves being asked to deliver topics far outside their own fields of expertise. Imagine being a maths, drama, PE or geography teacher and being expected to talk to young people about what a healthy relationship looks like; HIV and AIDS; sexually transmitted infections; or pornography, sexting and staying safe online.
This is where we come in.
Training teachers is a different experience to training youth workers. For youth workers, we have to cover lesson plans, managing behaviour and how to work in the school environment. Teachers already have a solid grounding in these areas, so their training is more focused on the topics and exploring different educational approaches.
Another difference is that youth workers tend to volunteer themselves for our RSE training. There are, of course, some teachers who volunteer and are enthusiastic about RSE, but there are many more who attend the training having been volunteered by their senior leadership team. They may feel uncomfortable about the prospect of teaching RSE, or view it as an unnecessary addition to their workload.
One of the most rewarding parts of the training is seeing these teachers grow in confidence and enthusiasm, as they are challenged and inspired.
With the recent proposed government policy change which is likely to make RSE a compulsory subject in all secondary schools, we expect teacher training will be a growth area of our work. While many schools will turn to us, as specialists, to provide the RSE sessions for their students, others will want their own teaching staff to deliver the subject, due to budgetary restraints. acet UK is ready to help schools meet these challenges.
‘I gained great knowledge which will be very accessible to young people.’ Language teacher
‘The activity about pictures sent on phones made me think.’ Maths teacher
‘I now have the knowledge to answer questions and clarify the myths around HIV.’ Geography teacher