Supporting pupils’ health and wellbeing
Specially-trained students are supporting teachers in delivering personal health and wellbeing sessions in schools.
University students and staff often go out to local schools to support teachers delivering a range of subjects, from science to sport, from music to maths, and much in between.
Another very important area of the curriculum is pupils’ personal health and wellbeing. Awareness of issues relating to body image, gender, sexuality, healthy relationships and consent has arguably never been greater yet, although a lot of information is available, many young people find it difficult to talk about these topics.
Schools provide education in personal health and wellbeing but young people are sometimes more receptive to learning about the issues from someone closer to their own age, for example, a student.
A national registered charity called Sexpression trains students to support teachers in local schools to discuss sensitive matters such as Body Image, Gender and Sexuality, Societal Pressures, Consent, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and the negative impact of Pornography.
We aim to educate and empower young people to make informed and responsible decisions about their bodies and their health in relation to sex and relationships. The schools we work with in Edinburgh find it useful to invite us in to facilitate discussion of these issues, as pupils are often less embarrassed to talk to someone who’s not much older than them.
Senior teachers, usually those responsible for curriculum areas such as student wellbeing and citizenship, co-ordinate the project within their schools, following all the usual agreed policies, procedures and consents. All students in the classroom have the required disclosure checks and clearances, as well as the mandatory training.
Teachers are, of course, in the classroom alongside the students while they talk to the pupils who often feel they can debate more freely with someone who is not their teacher. Materials and training are provided by the charity and all lesson plans are signed off in advance with the teacher and the school.
Findings from schools indicate that pupils are more willing to join in discussion of challenging topics when the students are present to help them. The atmosphere is one of mutual respect in which pupils acquire not only more information but also more confidence about making healthy choices.
Find out more
The Edinburgh University Students’ Association recently awarded Sexpression the title of Community and Campaigning Society of the Year on the basis of its work in the community and the appreciation it has received from local schools: https://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/activities/activitiesawards/
It is keen to build new relationships with schools and local community groups as well as sustain existing partnerships, and can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the website at http://sexpression.org.uk/