You are at a party and a drunk person approaches you for a kiss…what would you do?
I would make sure that they understood what they are doing before responding Miss
And what about if that person approaching you was a boy?
Well that depends on how good looking he was Miss!
When one of the leading lights of our school rugby team gave this answer towards the end of a workshop with a volunteer from the Schools Consent Project (SCP) I knew that it had been a success with our students. My school has been working with the SCP now for four years to ensure that all of our students have a really good understanding of the issues surrounding consent and sex.
“Having these discussions led by someone who is not their teacher helps students to be more open and honest in their responses.”
The SCP is a charity that is dedicated to educating and empowering young people so that they are able to understand and engage with the challenging topics of consent and sexual assault. This is a topic that has, of course, become increasingly important to schools since the start of the ‘Everyone’s Invited’ campaign and the subsequent Ofsted Review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges which laid out in such stark times the endemic issues faced by all schools.
The particular strength of the SCP’s approach lies firstly in the fact that the workshops it offers to schools and youth groups across the UK are led by legally trained volunteers. These volunteers start each workshop by ensuring that the students understand the legal definitions of consent and assault. This objective and factual approach to the topic is much more readily understood and accepted by teenagers who often dislike an overtly moralising approach to topics like this.
“The particular strength of the SCP’s approach lies firstly in the fact that its workshops are led by legally trained volunteers.”
The second part of the workshop is then taken up by discussion of real-life scenarios about consent and sex and what students feel that they would, or should, do in different situations. Having these discussions led by someone who is not their teacher and who is also an expert on the legalities of these scenarios definitely helps students to be more open and honest in their responses.
Secondly, the SCP is able to offer a tailored curriculum depending upon the age of the students, and now has a full range of lessons to form a spiral curriculum on consent. This takes students through from those in younger age groups, around year 7, looking at personal space and sexting through to year 11 students looking at possible situations at house parties and sixth formers thinking about the issues they might face when they go to university.
The SCP is also now looking to offer lessons to junior schools given a rising number of requests from that area. Being able to offer a broader curriculum around consent is particularly important so that the conversation is something that is happening regularly as part of the school’s broader culture rather than just being a one-off talk that can be quickly forgotten.
“The SCP is also now looking to offer lessons to junior schools given a rising number of requests from that area.”
The SCP was founded in 2015 by Kate Parker, and has now provided consent education to tens of thousands of students across England, and over the coming years it is planned to continue to expand the number of volunteers from the tens to the hundreds of thousands and ensure that it is a topic that becomes ever more ingrained in the curriculum of every school.
Schools that are interested in talking to the SCP about a workshop, or series of workshops can get in touch on their website: https://www.schoolconsentproject.com. It is recommended that each workshop has about 30 or so students so that all have a chance to fully participate, and often schools will ask for a number of volunteers to come at once so that a whole year group has the chance to experience a workshop. The SCP is, though, able to tailor its provision to the needs of the school.