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NAPCE News – September 2021

NAPCE News – September 2021

Making a positive difference to young people through pastoral care

FEATURE ARTICLE: LGBT+ Issues in Schools: a Reflection on the First Anniversary of the Introduction of Statutory Relationships & Sex Education in England & Wales by Max Biddulph

LGBT+ issues in schools: a reflection on the first anniversary of the introduction of statutory Relationships and Sex Education in England and Wales by Max Biddulph

September 2021 marks the first anniversary of the introduction of statutory Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in England and Wales, following a campaign by researchers, practitioners and activists in the field over two decades, to secure a more solid footing for this subject in schools.

Along with PSHE, this subject not only comprises a strong component of the pastoral curriculum, it also informs the pastoral interventions that teachers make on a daily basis with children and young people on a one to one.

Being a gay man of ‘a certain age’ I know from my own ‘educational back-story’ why feeling included and supported in a personal identity is so important in sustaining a sense of self-esteem and associated feelings of agency, needed for personal growth and educational success.

These are not only conditions that I want for me, I feel they are absolutely fundamental for all human beings in the world. Given this backdrop, I would like to share with you some observations on this, the first anniversary of the new ‘curricular-pastoral environment’ in the teaching of LGBT+ issues in RSE.

Historically, a tension has always existed between the concepts of ‘schooling’ and ‘sexualities’ and in the UK context, attempts by the state to control the messaging to children and young people about sexuality and gender is characterised by legislation such as the now infamous Section 28 of the Local Government Act, 1988.

Developments in the new millennium changed this stance and a combination of homophobic/transphobic bullying research, calls from practitioners, pressure from LGBT+ Communities and the legal implications of the Equality Act 2010, have combined to create the antecedents for reform.

Given that schools are now required to teach either Relationships Education (primary) or Relationships and Sex Education (secondary), it was perhaps inevitable that the inclusion of LGBT+ issues would have the potential to initiate another round of controversy.

In her article ‘LGBT teaching in primary school: equality, discrimination and freedom of expression’ (Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 42(2) 243-245), Emma Nottingham (2020) captures what was in 2019, perhaps the peak moment in the challenge between members of mainly British Pakistani community and an inner-city primary school where weeks of protest on the street outside the school culminated in a legal injunction being sought by Birmingham City Council to restrict the street gatherings and the online abuse made via social media of staff teaching the Relationships Education curriculum.

At the heart of this dispute is the question as to whether it is appropriate to teach primary school children about a range of relationships and identities that exist in society i.e. heterosexual, same-sex etc.

In the case of Birmingham City Council vs Afsar, Nottingham (2020) notes that the ruling by Mr Justice Warby who found in favour of the city council, drew on both the UK Equality Act 2010 and the European Convention on Human Rights.  With regard to the latter, Justice Warby stated that his judgement sought to strike a balance between Article 10 (freedom of expression), Article 8 (right to private and family life), Article 9 (freedom of thought conscience and religion and Article 11 (freedom of association). This is an important judgement for two reasons:

  1. It sets a precedent in the legal acceptance of Relationships and Sex Education to be taught in an inclusive way i.e portraying the full range of sexualities and relationships
  2. It shines a light of the extraordinarily complex territory that education has to navigate in terms of culture, values and what constitutes ‘age-appropriate knowledge’.

In responding to the challenge of teaching RSE in schools where cultural diversity is very prominent, a number of really significant implications emerge.

The first of these relates to the need for a really robust stance when it comes to the ways in which equality diversity and inclusion will be addressed in the day-to-day activity of the school.

Having worked with colleagues in the school at the centre of the dispute, I can see that their stance on this is the bedrock of their practice, and the mechanism that ultimately lead to a legal resolution of the issue. This ‘whole school approach’ permeates not just the statements in policies that position the schools’ values but communicates the need for respect in all relationships in the school community.

The latter requires incredibly sensitive handling and an ability to engage in assertive communication that simultaneously ‘holds’ and respects the range of diversity.

In the post local education authority era where specialist professional development has to be sought further afield, I would urge schools not to struggle with these issues on their own. Specialist advice is available from national organisations such as the Sex Education Forum/National Childrens Bureau, who can advise for example, on consultations/information giving for parents about the content and delivery of RSE.

A second ‘implication’ relates to the ways in which communities and identities are understood by practitioners. An unsettling dimension of the dispute is the fact that the issues cut across sensitive domains of race, culture, faith, ethnicity and sexuality.

It would be easy to stereotype individuals based on these dimensions and the problem with this is that it leads to blind spots which obscure the complexity of intersectionality. With a more open mind it is possible to see how for example, a young person of British Pakistani heritage could find themselves curious or questioning their sexual orientation.

Fifty years of narratives of LGBT+ experience has taught us what a potentially lonely and difficult place this is, emotionally. Having an identity acknowledged or affirmed albeit in the form of a passing reference, could be crucial to longer term experience of self-esteem.

Since these tumultuous events of 2019, life in the school briefly returned to normal and the street outside fell silent again.

The arrival of the Covid-19 global pandemic with all the diversion and disruption that ensued, has briefly drawn a curtain over the new dawn of RSE in schools in England and Wales.

The issue of mental well-being in school communities has surfaced as a key consideration and this illuminates a final implication emerging from the case.

Staff self-care needs to be paramount especially in situations where staff find themselves caught in situations where strongly held values and emotions are being expressed in relation to the inclusion of LGBT+ issues.

Some comfort can be taken from the fact that legal injunctions can be taken out to prevent the online abuse of school staff via social media and the fact as Nottingham (2020:245) observes:
‘that sex and relationships education can be capable of reflecting various relationship types whist respecting the values and cultures and religions that advocate heterosexual relationships’.

Max Biddulph, Chair Editorial Board, Pastoral Care in Education (NAPCE)

AWARDS: Tickets Available for NAPCE Awards 2021

National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education 2021

Excitement is building ahead of for the National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education 2021 Presentation Event this month.

This important event in the educational calendar takes place this year online on Thursday 23rd September at 7pm.

Join with NAPCE to celebrate the good practice in pastoral care in education as the winners in each category are announced.

There are a few remaining tickets for links to the event. Follow this link to register.

Pastoral School of the Year – Sponsor BlueSky Education

A school that can demonstrate a commitment to pastoral care and support for learners that makes a real difference in the progress and personal development of young people in the school.

Royal School DungannonDugannon, Northern Ireland
Oakfield School
The Children’s Hospital School , Leicester
Limavady High SchoolLimavady, Northern Ireland
School for Inspiring TalentsNewton Abbott, Devon

Pastoral Team of the Year – Sponsor – The Thrive Approach

A team that works in pastoral care and can demonstrate a determination to support young people to achieve their full potential and a positive impact on the young people they work with.

The Grove Pastoral Team, The Grove School, Tottenham, London
All Saints C of E Primary School, Wigston Leicestershire
Limavady High School , Limavady, Northern Ireland
Nidderdale High School, Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire
Buxton Community School, Buxton, Derbyshire

Pastoral Member of Staff of the Year – Sponsor- Inclusion Expert 

A member of staff who works in pastoral care and who always makes the extra effort to support young people to enable them to become effective learners and achieve success.

Zoe Knight, Westfield Infant School, Hinckley, Leicestershire
Julie McCartney, Limavady High School, Limavady, Northern Ireland, nominated by Laura Fisher
Dawn Sadler, Learning Mentor at Moulton Primary School, Moulton, Northamptonshire
Dr Helen O’Connor, St. Swithun’s School, Winchester, Hampshire
Mrs Shanie Thorpe, Bishop Challoner School Basingstoke

Pastoral Leader of the Year – Sponsor  Taylor and Francis

Has a passion for pastoral care that is shared with colleagues to inspire and motivate them to make a real difference in the lives of the young people they work with.

Miss Laura Fisher, Limavady High School, Limavady, Northern Ireland
Helen Burton (Deputy Headteacher) Belmont Community SchoolBelmont Durham
Luke Ramsden, Senior Deputy Head, St Benedict’s School, Ealing, London
Micki Handford, The Children’s Hospital School, Leicester
Alison Simpson, Cobden Primary School, Loughborough, Leicestershire

Pastoral Development of the Year – Sponsor NAPCE

A pastoral initiative or idea that has achieved positive outcomes and has improved the learning experience and future life chances, for young people.

Mayameen Meftahi, Student Support and Intervention Mentor TRT (Trauma Recovery & Training) Student Support and mentoring Intervention Program
St. Swithun’s School, Winchester, Hampshire, Positive Education Curriculum
Jenny Kay, Nidderdale High School, Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire, Flourish Personal Development Programme
The Children’s Hospital School, Leicester, The Thrive Programme
Buxton & Leek College, Leek, Staffordshire, My team (Learner Journey Team), BLC INVEST

Outstanding Contribution to Pastoral Care – Sponsor NAPCE

A person, group or organisation that has made a real difference in pastoral care, for the benefit of young people.

Jan Ashton, Nidderdale High School, Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire
Sarah Cockerline, Oakfield School, Hull
Nicola Wright, Nidderdale High School,Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire
Claire Gibbs, Ridgeway Secondary School, Redditch, Worcestershire
AchieveNI, Belfast Northern Ireland

International Contribution to Pastoral Care – Sponsor The Hult International Business School

An international school, organisation outside of the UK or an individual working in research or in an international school outside of the UK, that has promoted or delivered high quality pastoral care.

Bromsgrove International School, Thailand
Stephany Herzog, International School of Zug and Luzern
Child1st Consultancy Limited

Raising Awareness about Pastoral Care – Sponsor -The Association of School and College Leaders

An individual, group or organisation who through their actions have raised awareness about pastoral care or pastoral issues and encouraged positive improvements for the benefit of young people.

To be announced at the event.

RESEARCH: Invitation to Take Part in Research Focused on Online Safety for Young People

NAPCE has been informed about some important research into keeping young people safe online.

The researchers who have been guest writers for NAPCE News and recently presented at the NAPCE online conference are recruiting parents in the UK who have at least one child aged 13-18.

They have provided us with the following details.

“We are a team of researchers interested in learning how parents of youth (aged 13 to 18) such as you perceive the impact of COVID-19 on the sexual and gendered risks and harms that young people face online.

“By completing this survey, you would be helping to inform resources for young people, teachers, and parents on how to stay safe online during the pandemic and beyond.”

Link to the survey:


Dr.Kaitlynn Mendes
Associate Professor of Sociology
Western University”

EVENT: Pastoral Leaders Invited to Attend New Pastoral Forum

NAPCE is pleased to have been invited to attend the Pastoral Forum for the recently formed International Forum for Inclusive Practitioners by Inclusion Expert who are one of the sponsors for the National Awards for Pastoral Care in Education 2021 being organised by NAPCE.

They have sent NAPCE the following details.

“We’d like to remind all those with a pastoral interest that the Pastoral Forum is next week on Thursday 23rd at 2pm London BST.

If you know of any pastoral leaders, please let them know about it.

For more details and to find out about the link to this forum please contact

Lesley Bradley
Secretary to Daniel Sobel, CEO

JOURNAL: Special Edition of Pastoral Care In Education to be Released in October

NAPCE Journal – Special Edition

Have you every thought about how COVID-19 has impacted on the pastoral care of children and young people throughout the world?

The next edition of Pastoral  Care in Education – will attempt to go some way towards answering that question.

In what is one of the first academic journal to explore this issue, Professor Carol Mutch, one of our international editors,  has put together a series of internationally authored papers that identify both specific and global issues that are currently  impacting on the lives of many children and young people.

For more information contact

Professor Stan Tucker
Executive Editor – Pastoral Care in Education.

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