Facebook group for RSE Teachers- Free advice and support!

I am really excited to be able to tell you about my new project for the year ahead. Justin Hancock and I have been kindly sponsored by Reckitt Benckiser to set up and run a facebook group for RSE teachers to support them with delivery of RSE especially now it is becoming statutory (We retain full editorial control and independence) . This is as part of our work for DO…  (you know those awesome FREE RSE Resources Justin and I wrote!).
We antipcate this will be a group for discussions of best practice, signposting great resources/organisations, a space for sharing helpful hints and tips and resources etc. We already have 130+ members!
If you are a practicing RSE teacher then please do check us out and join us and please share with any other RSE teachers you know who might find this useful.

Addressing online activity with LGBT+ young people.

A twitter pal bought this to my attention last month and I haven’t had a moment to finish this post until now. Many apologies for the tardiness of this post! I can’t embed the video on my blog (but it is available in the twitter link above) but basically it shows a 15 year old Mitchell in gloriously contoured makeup talking about whether he fancied boys or girls and informing the viewer that if he had to put a label on it he might be bisexual. It then showed two adults sat with him in a room confronting him about his Tinder profile.

Shaming an LGBT+ young person for their use of social media to meet people is generally unhelpful in terms of safeguarding them from harm. Due to prejudice and discrimination faced by LGBT+ communities, Young people who identify as LGBT+ can often struggle to meet other young people experiencing similar things to what they experience and forming romantic relationships can be difficult. Social media can offer a forum to meet likeminded folk and a space to explore your identity.

At 15 this young person is under the age of consent (which in the U.K. (except Northern Ireland) is 16 for both opposite and same sex experiences. The website Tindr (which is mildly less of a ‘meatmarket’ than its counterpart Grindr) has a minimum age limit of 18  however young people frequently join websites before they are able too. As far as I am aware there are no UK laws preventing young people from signing up to websites so the teacher reference to illegality was misplaced. What would be illegal would be if the young person took a sexually explicit picture and shared that as that can be classed as transmitting ‘child pornography’ if under 18.

The admonishing of the young person and demand that he delete the app was unhelpful and ultimately unsucessful in changing his behaviour. You could tell it came from a place of genuine care and concern for the young person, but as you saw in the next clip he had deleted the app from another phone and was still using the app and checking his matches. All the staff had succeeded in doing was driving his behaviour underground.

How could this situation have been dealt with better? Firstly the young person needs access to an LGBT+ youth group- a space to be himself and meet other young people supported by experienced LGBT+ youth workers. Those youth workers could also be present in safeguarding meetings about app use and the tone of the conversation should have been exploring why Tindr was being used, what was hoped to get from using the app, what the possible risks were and how to mitigate those risks. Young people are often a lot more savvy in their social media use than adults give them credit for and many of them are a lot better at sussing people contacting them for nefarious purposes than we think. Having said that, young gay men in particular are vulnerable to child sexual exploitation and this can often be missed in current drives by local authorities to address CSE as the focus is often on vulnerable girls.

It’s wonderful that the young man said he wasn’t bullied at school and full credit to the school for that, as for many young people I work with school is not a happy environment for them. I would hope that he can access a Manchester based LGBT+ support group such as the fabulous folk at the Proud Trust.  I also think internet safety more generally needs to be addressed comprehensively as part of PSHE lessons in the school and I think the staff might benefit from attending some additional training around supporting LGBT+ youth at school.

If you are in the South West for local help and support for LGBT+ and training for professionals do get in touch with Off The Record Bath and North East Somerset, or consider donating so we can continue working to help local kids like Mitchell find their own wonderful rainbow path in the world.

The teacher that ate catfood in front of her students to teach them a lesson that would never be forgotten….

So did that click baity blog post title pressure you into reading more? Interesting….

I was finally able to deliver my favourite lesson of all time on Monday. It was a lesson that stemmed from an idea in one of Sue Cowley‘s behaviour books about using mars bars in orange jelly in a tin of catfood as a hook to capture kids attention. She had got it from her colleague Dave who used it in a DT lesson about how marketing and packaging works, ‘Should you always believe what you read on the label?’

Previously I had used it very succesfully in a lesson on digestion when I used to teach science, and in 2010 I wrote a lesson plan using it to teach peer pressure  which has been well received on TES website. Unofortunately but I didn’t have a real opportunity to trial this lesson myself until 7 years later (had three kids in meantime)!  I love that the idea (chopped up mars bars in orange jelly) can become such a versatile tool for use in all sorts of lessons. Really does create an unforgetable learning experience for young people.

The Catfood lesson I delivered this week went far better than I hoped for 7 years ago – it was genuinely one of the most fun activities I have ever taught. Two things struck me which hadn’t occured when I wrote the lesson- firstly – suprisingly lots of the young people were desperate to try the catfood even when they thought it was catfood! There was some social cachet involved in being the coolest/daftest member of the class to try it. Peer pressure in action!!  Secondly that this lesson can also be used as an example of teaching about internet safety- when we used “you can go viral on the internet eating catfood!” this massively changed the pressure power dynamic. In 2010 when I wrote that lesson that wasn’t really a thing in the same way it is now.

The bit I was really chuffed with is my daft catfood acrostic really worked with the young people when helping them analyse peer pressure. Hopefully it might be memorable and useable.

C- Consider consequences?

A- Analyse Advantages?

T- Talk to someone who can help

F- Find out more information?

O- Other options instead?

O- Own your own mind and body

D- Decide on what action to take

Anyhow I am pasting a draft version of the lesson plan below. I would love thoughts and feedback to help me refine it and I will publish a more polished version post consultation. With thanks from Ian MacDonald from Mentor Adepis whose fab training I was at yesterday and for his idea on 3 stage sentences for exploring peer pressure which I have shamelessly adapted!

Catfood and peer pressure

Lesson Preparation:

Before the class prepare the following:

Using a thoroughly cleaned empty tin (of human food!)- carefully stick a catfood label around the tin.  Prepare some orange jelly in a bowl and leave to set.  Chop up a mars bar into small cubes.  Just before the lesson begins mix in the chopped mars bar into the orange jelly so it resembles catfood and put in the tin (Warning don’t do this too far in advance of the lesson as the ingredients will dissolve into each other). Place a plastic “tin lid” eg a Pringles lid. over it  for hygiene. Have plenty of spoons available in this lesson.

Arrange for a single student (someone who is a good actor and has no dietary restrictions or allergies so is able to eat mars bars in orange jelly) to be informed before the lesson and to be the one being pressured.



Lesson Objectives

  • To analyse what is happening in a “peer pressure” situation.


  • To practice different possible responses to peer pressure.


  • To use the CATFOOD acrostic to help with dealing with situations involving peer pressure.

Remind class of the ground rules for PSHE sessions to establish a safe learning environment.

Show the class the following sentences and ask them what they would do in that situation.

  1. Would you try a cigarette?
  2. Would you eat catfood?
  3. Would you get in a car with someone who had been drinking?
  4. Would you add an older person you didn’t know to your social media?

Reveal a second part to the sentences and see if that changes things:

  1. Would you try a cigarette if the people around you were smoking?
  2. Would you eat catfood if someone dared you to for a laugh?
  3. Would you get in a car with someone who had been drinking and no-one else seemed worried?
  4. Would you add an older person you didn’t know to your social media, but they were already friends with your friends?

Reveal a third part of the sentences to see if that changes things further

  1. Would you try a cigarette if the people around you were smoking including someone you really fancied?
  2. Would you eat catfood if someone dared you to for a laugh and you figured it might make you go viral on youtube?
  3. Would you get in a car with someone who had been drinking and no-one else seemed worried and you didn’t want to be the one to kill the mood?
  4. Would you add an older person you didn’t know to your social media, but they were already friends with your friends, and you wanted to have more friends in your list to look popular?

Discuss with the class if and why their opinions changed and explain that this lesson is going to explore aspects of peer pressure and saying No in more detail


Main Activity:Eating Catfood

Ask the class for a volunteer for the next activity and pick your young person who you have previously prepared.

You should be offering the tin of catfood and saying things like:

“Come on everyone else has, you can’t be in our gang unless you do, you’re such a wimp, it’s not going to hurt you, it’s good enough for cats so it’s fine for us,” etc etc. Show the class the catfood and show yourself how fine it is to eat ‘catfood’ (at which point the class may erupt!) you can pretend to like it but still make it seem like it is genuine catfood.  The young person being pressured should try and withhold but eventually give in and try the catfood. It’s particularly effective for the next stages of the lesson if they act like it is horrible.

Ask what techniques you were using to pressure the young person into eating the catfood?

Suggestions could include:

·         Saying everyone was doing it?- (was that true?)

·         Saying they couldn’t be in their gang- excluding them if they didn’t join in

·         Saying hurtful personal comments

·         Saying it wouldn’t hurt to try it (is that true?).

Ask the class why did the young person give in to the peer pressure?

Suggestions could include

·         Wanted to be liked

·         Wanted them to stop going on at him

·         Wanted to be in their gang

·         Believed teacher that it wouldn’t hurt.

Now ask for a volunteer in the class to show how to say no to the teacher.  (choose quite a confident assertive individual who will be able to cope!) Role play the pressure situation again and allow the new actor to say no, this time The teacher can  really up the pressure- including showing how easy it is to “eat the catfood”.  “Look you are SUCH a wimp- look its soooo easy, what a baby, I dare have a spoonful, in fact I’ll have two etc. (eat the “catfood” in front of the new volunteer. Perhaps even persuade the first young person to have some again- to increase the pressure further “And look my friend is doing it too- so why can’t you- both “friends” to laugh and jeer at the other young person while eating the “catfood”.

(Again if the class hasn’t sussed this isn’t really catfood yet there maybe be some strong reactions!).

Further role play ideas

  • You can also experiment with offering the spoon to the young person first and seeing how that affects the pressure situation (once they have the spoon in their hand (the tool to eat the catfood) it becomes much harder to say no.


  • You can also ask someone to film it on a mobile or talk about how this is going to make us go viral and how that might affect the pressure situation.
  • You can ask for more volunteers to try and catfood.  Interestingly lots of young people will volunteer not knowing it genuinely isn’t catfood (having seen the teacher and a peer try it). Unpick with the class what motivations are going on behind volunteering to take part (whilst being mindful of the class dynamic and not putting a young person in any uncomfortable personal position).

Ask the class why they are being pressured into eating ‘catfood’?

Suggestions could include:

–      Because it’s genuinely good and they want to share how nice it is?!

–      Because they are bullying

–      Because they want to have power over them?

–      Because they want that person to be like them?

–      Because they want them to be in the gang?

–      Because they know eating catfood is wrong but they want other people to join them so they won’t be the only ones who get into trouble.

–      Because they are trying dares/taking risks/hazing for group membership.

–      Because they are trying to do something stupid for popularity (going viral)

Ask the class what might the genuine consequences of giving into peer pressure (of eating catfood) might be? (including physical and emotional consequences)

  • Tummy ache/being sick/allergies
  • Nothing
  • Parents get cross
  • Feeling sad that they gave into pressure
  • Not feeling in control.

Explain to the class about “passive, aggressive and assertive responses” and role play each of these for the situation. Ask the children to role play each of these responses and discuss in pairs how it felt.

Ask the class what techniques the new role player was employing to avoid having to eat the catfood.

–      eg. repetition NO NO NO, Body language- strong defensive stance, Giving good reasons “no I might be allergic, “I ate earlier” etc.


Analyse each of these responses in more detail- for example young people will often giggle or give shy body language when saying no to the catfood. Point out by smiling or weaker body language they might be conveying that they are not sure of their NO so the pressurer knows they might win them over if they keep trying. (N.B. It is important to be clear here about consent and victim blaming- an absence of No is not a yes, and if something happens to someone without their consent that is never okay and never the victims fault for not saying NO well enough- this lesson is simply an opportunity for us to practice our NO!’s in a safe space. Signpost local sources of support if necessary.)


Explain that humans are often not very good at saying no. This partly comes from our parents not letting us say no to bedtimes, or brushing our teeth, so saying no as a teenager or adult can be tricky for us as we like to please people. So it is important we practice saying NO to things we don’t want and that we convey that clearly.


Explain there are three parts to saying No. Firstly a loud clear NO! Secondly a stern facial expression- no smiling or laughing. Thirdly strong confident body language- perhaps even with a hand up. NO!  Encourage the class to role play saying No and talk about how that felt.

Discuss situations where it can be hard to say no.

Further activities.

Ask the class to come up with a list of “Strategies for saying no to peer pressure” Create a whole class poster with this information on.





Explain to the class if they haven’t already worked it out that the “catfood” is really orange jelly and mars bars, and in this case not really harmful however there are many situations where someone might try and pressure you into doing something that could be harmful- ask the class to consider what these may be and come up with a list.

Introduce the “CATFOOD” acrostic to help them with decision making in cases of peer pressure in future.

C- Consider consequences?

A- Analyse Advantages?

T- Talk to someone who can help

F- Find out more information?

O- Other options instead?

O- Own your own mind and body

D- Decide on what action to take


Ask students to create individual decorated posters with this information on.



Sources of support for LGBTQ+ young people over Christmas and New Year.

For some of the LGBTQ+ young folk I work with Christmas can be a difficult time.  Extended periods of time with close family, when sometimes the young person may not be out, or there are relationship tensions around the young persons identity. So just wanted to share with you all some helpful sources of support that are accessible throughout the Christmas period. I especially love HolidayMom (as do some of the folk I work with).  Please share with anyone who might find this useful.


Switchboard offers free non-judgemental and confidential help for LGBTQ+people. You can call free on 0300 330 0630 10am-11pm every day, instant message or email chris@switchboard.lgbt

Childline offers free and confidential help for young people in the UK 24/7. You can call free on 0800 1111, speak to a counsellor online or visit the explore section on their website for information and advice on a range of topics.
Samaritans offers free and confidential help in the UK 24/7, you don’t have to be suicidal to get in touch. You can call free on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org or visit a local Bath Samaritans Branch. http://www.samaritans.org/bran…/samaritans-bath-and-district

The Mix
The Mix offers free and confidential support to the under 25s. They are offering support over Christmas

You  like to check out your Holiday Mom which offers LGBTQ+ youth a virtual home for the holidays. http://www.yourholidaymom.com/

In an emergency you should always ring 999.

5 things that everyone should know about sex – Guardian

Today the Guardian has posted ‘5 things that everyone should know about sex’ that I wrote for them. From reading the comments (I know I know I shouldn’t but did!) it seems like I needed to expand more on enthusiastic consent (I had a word limit.) So I will try and get a mo to expand on that more this week. Hope you enjoy the article.


What ‘porn education’ before puberty might look like.

Teach children about pornography before puberty has been published today. Before the moral panic sets in, here is what ‘porn education’ before puberty might look like.
Age 4-6
Basic differences between boys and girls;  challenging gender stereotypes at every opportunity; correct names of body parts; being a good friend (healthy relationships), who can we get help from if scared or upset about something?  Pantosaurus and NSPCC pants campaign needs to be taught here.
Age 6-8
Carry on building on the work from 4-6 PLUS more work on challenging gender stereotypes; building individual resilience and self confidence so children don’t feel they have to follow the herd all the time; more work on healthy relationships;  basic work around internet safety – seeking help if you see something that worries or upsets you. (Alongside supportive work with parents around parental filters, and supporting parents to have conversations with their children about sex and relationships including porn).
Age 9-11
Carry on building on all the work from 4-8 (particularly around healthy relationships, gender stuff and building resilience)  PLUS much more work on staying safe online. Children may start to have their own mobiles at this age.
At this age we should be clear that there is lots of “stuff for grownups” (adult content) online but that it is illegal for someone to show things meant for people over 18 to them. If anyone tries to show them something or to share pictures of themselves online then they need to know how to report it. Children need to know about the CEOP report abuse button (on many of the social media sites that children use) and that if they ever see anything online that worries or scares them there is always someone able to help them (help them identify who those people are). We also need to teach them to be ferociously media critical. They need to know about photoshopping; that “the fast and the furious” movies about high speed car chases would be useless to learn how to drive a car (!) and likewise much of what they see online probably won’t actually reflect how they live in the real world. You don’t need to teach them at all this age that porn sex in no way relates to real sex – but you need to equip them with skills to critically analyse how media can distort reality. The Mediasmart resources can help with this.
We all need to be aware that fewer children are accessing inappropriate material than we think and that they report less harm than we might expect however we need to teach them to recognize that some of the stuff online may scare or upset them because their brains are not ready to process it, so self care would be not to seek it out in the first place (same rule goes for getting offline if it gets too much).  Personally I suspect children may come across porn because they are desperate to seek answers to words they may hear in the playground- ‘cock’ ‘boobs’ ‘cum’ etc. and so they google them…… . Although you also need to be aware they may also innocently come across porn if filters not set up correctly because if you google image search ‘three little pigs’ without safe search turned on- you don’t just get innocent nursery rhymes!!!
Really high quality age appropriate sex ed is vital at this age range. Children and young people need to have a space where all their questions about sex and relationships can be answered openly and honestly. They will want and need discussions of puberty and bodily changes, crushes and romantic relationships, what sex is and why people have it. They need reassurance that masturbation is a normal part of growing up for many people that teaches about your body and what feels good (although being sensitive to the fact that some cultures do frown upon it). They also need to know that it is something that is done in private and that it is probably best to use your imagination rather than “sexy materials” until you are old and mature enough to make an active choice to seek/use “sexy materials” or not (note I haven’t even said the word pornography- you don’t have too – its about finding age appropriate routes to education).  I quite like the Sense CD’s Sex and Relationship DVD which has some nice cartoon clips about what masturbation and fantasy and internet porn is which would be suitable for Y6/Y7 age range- 11-12.
 This age range also need good sex ed resources for their age group where they can access information on their own. There are hundreds of sex ed books parents can order (I quite like Sex is a funny word and let’s talk about sex or there is Not your mum or amaze.org which are aimed at the preteen age range). Parents also need a ton of support here (Sadly this support is often lacking but parents local to Bath/Bristol get in touch as I am starting to offer some supportive discussion and training sessions on this stuff!)
N.B For the pubertal 11-14’s I would continue to build on all of the work described above, going into more detail about sex, puberty, media literacy etc.  For the 14plus age range I always think @Bishtrainings Planet Porn resource and Website are just fab! For all of this work I recommend looking at Brooks Sexual Behaviors Traffic light tool as it gives you a really clear idea about what behaviours come at what age and where the red and amber flags are to certain sexual behaviours.
Hope this clarifies somewhat what Porn Education might look like for the under 11’s. It is not anything too terrifying and it can most definitely be done sensitively and age appropriately! Well done to Sarah Champion for saying what needed to be said. Now lets hope the government will listen and make SRE statutory with an age and stage appropriate curriculum that meets the needs of 21st Century Children.

Teaching kids to say NO!

Having explored teaching safewords with young people I think it is clear we also need to practice our NO!’s. Lesley Kerr Edwards of Image in Action recently showed us the Speak out stay safe  resources from NSPCC at a SEF meeting. She had a great activity with threatening to spray kids with water from a spray bottle and they had to communicate No to her (nobody got wet!) where the NO! was broken down into three parts:

  • verbal– loud strong clear confident NO!
  • facial– a stern/frowning unsmiling face
  • body– A hand firmly put up as a barrier signalling STOP!

I think even with teens it is worth breaking down the communication of NO! into parts so we can unpick where ambiguity and potential issues around consent can arise.

Other techniques to practice saying No include “broken record technique” or exploring passive/aggressive/assertive No communication.

What other techniques do you use for teaching No?

Teaching safewords in SRE teaching about consent?

So the brilliant Alan McKee was talking about teaching safewords (video from about 6.03) when teaching about consent.

Safewords are a word used in sexual activity (generally in BDSM) that if used the sexual activity should stop immediately.  At this point the partners should move to different form of relationship interaction, a caring, nurturing role where the following questions should be asked:

  • What happened?
  • Are you okay?
  • What do you want to do now?

Young people often find it hard to talk about and communicate about sex and consent, so I think that teaching the option of using safewords to cause a STOP followed by a shift into caring communication about what happened could be really useful.

Given the potential daily mail sensitivities around “teaching safewords” in sex education then this could simply be taught around using the word NO. If this word is used at any point then your partner needs to check in using the questions above.

What do you think? Would you teach safewords in your classroom?

A new approach to SRE. Let’s DO… it!

Start of a new term and time for me to share with you a project I have been working on since April 2015  with the fabulous BISHUK and loads of other amazing bods from NAHT, NAT, Brook Charity, FPA, RSE Hub

We have worked together with the lovely folk at Durex and Hive Health  come up with DO… which is a new approach to sex ed. New because it doesn’t just focus on pregnancy, plumbing and prevention, but actually starts where young people are at and takes them on a journey through who they are, their identity, relationships, society, gender roles, consent, sexuality and so much more!

BONUS: All the resources are absolutely 100% FREE!!!!

There are loads of resources for schools looking at adopting the whole school approach (Clue: for sex ed to have an impact it HAS to be a whole school approach). Plus an incredibly useful Self evaluation tool for signposting the most crucial info personalised to your schools needs.

DO… also offers an ace teachers CPD section for skilling you up before you start.  Then there are 6 ace easy to use lesson plans and associated materials.  If that wasn’t enough soon we will also be offering training!

So anyhow, it is a project I am incredibly proud of and absolutely love working on so I wanted to share with you all.

Hope you like it and find it useful!



My Wellbeing Toolkit- A free resource for those working with young people.

So recently I learned how to use Google Drawings and at the same time this post from the awesome friend @PookyH  inspired me to think about wellbeing action plans. So this afternoon I started to have a  play with google drawings (partly because I was having a play for my own Wellbeing Action Plan- you need to practice what you preach after all!) and I came up with something that if printed on A3 might be useful for those working with young people.


My Wellbeing Toolkit (1)


It is adapted from the 5 Ways to Wellbeing and I also added some explanatory info to help young people with filling it in. It is probably aimed at secondary aged pupils due to some of the language but when I get a mo, I will look at doing a primary version.

Notes on Completing My Wellbeing Toolkit (2)

Anyhow I hope you find this helpful and I provide the PDF for printing on A3 here MyWellbeingToolkit: and the explanatory notes here:Notes on Completing My Wellbeing Toolkit

Any feedback, I would love to hear it. I am still learning with Google drawings and I am no designer but I am finding it a really easy to use and fun tool (and Google docs in general is awesome for collaborative work!).

Happy Educating!