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Our next Parent Workshop will be on Wednesday 22nd May. This will be an opportunity to find out about The Carers Centre and to learn more about how to support children's sensory differences.
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Oaklands School

Building Foundations for Fulfilling Futures

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Oaklands School

Building Foundations for Fulfilling Futures

SoSafe! for healthy relationships

SoSafe! for healthy relationships at Oaklands School

 

What is SoSafe!?

 

SoSAFE! Is a system designed to help children with SEND to be able to learn about keeping themselves safe, appropriate ways to act and accept support in different types of relationship, and what makes a positive healthy relationship. It uses a standardised framework of symbols, visual teaching tools and concepts and provides visual communication tools for reporting physical or sexual abuse so that young people can advocate for themselves. It is important to stress that SoSafe! is not a sex education tool.

 

SoSafe! provides a set of conceptual tools designed to promote social safety through:

 

  1. The provision of a simplified and ‘rule-governed’ model of social reality
  2. Teaching the type and degree of verbal and physical intimacy appropriate with different categories of people
  3. Teaching strategies for moving into intimate relationships in a safe and measured manner
  4. Providing visual communication tools for reporting physical or sexual abuse
  5. Facilitating and maintaining support networks

 

At Oaklands, we know that all of our children are vulnerable because of their special educational needs, in particular how they communicate and how they understand interaction with others and relationships. Through our teaching, including using SoSafe! Tools, we endeavour to build their understanding and awareness of how to keep themselves safe at all times.

 

This relates to all children’s learning within the Interaction and Social skills elements of CISS, topics within our PSHE curriculum and the OPAL (Oaklands Pathways Assessment Ladders) for Independence & Life Skills.

 

 

Some of the key concepts in the initial stages of the SoSafe! strategy are:

 

  • Some body parts are private and we cover them with underwear/swimwear
  • Only Private helpers can touch our private parts AND consent must be given
  • Children have a right NOT to consent to others’ help

 

These concepts relate to a variety of contexts including when needing support with hygiene, medical assistance and toileting.

 

At Oaklands, we introduce consent very early on in order for children to safeguard themselves from unwanted touch and potential abuse. We ensure that children can use a range of ways to say Yes/give consent (Makaton; head nod/shake etc) and practice this in relation to scenarios.

 

Key resources used to develop SoSafe! Knowledge and skills include

  • Talk Touch Triangle – shown below)
  • Steps to Relationships Book
  • Visuals such as the Help Card

 

Examples of objectives covered by SoSafe! in each pathway:

Nurture Pathway

  • Learning basic body parts and beginning to identify them on themselves and others
  • Beginning to develop awareness of themselves and others
  • Beginning to learn and understand the words public and private
  • Understanding of the initial elements of the Talk Touch Triangle
  • Accepts help from familiar adults with personal care
  • Beginning to understand ‘yes’, ‘no’ and some boundaries
  • Anticipates familiar actions/activities in an exchange with an adult

 

Willow Pathway

  • Knows basic body parts and able to identify them on themselves and others
  • Developed awareness of themselves and others
  • Beginning to recognise how to keep themselves safe in the school environment
  • Understanding of the words public and private
  • Understanding of the initial elements of the Talk Touch Triangle
  • Developing their awareness of the Talk Touch Triangle
  • Accepting help from familiar adults with personal care

 

Elm Pathway

  • Matches clothing to body part
  • Highly developed awareness of themselves and others
  • Understanding how to keep themselves safe in school and on trips
  • Understanding of the words public and private
  • Understanding of the initial elements of the Talk Touch Triangle, aspiring to move up the triangle where appropriate
  • Beginning to use the Steps to Relationships Book where appropriate
  • Beginning to articulate when they are hurt using a preferred communication method
  • Attends to at least some of their toileting needs most of the time by themselves
  • Awareness of the boundaries set, and of behavioural expectations in the setting

 

 Cherry Pathway

  • Attends to all toileting needs independently
  • Knows how to get help in an emergency
  • Maintains attention appropriately to other people in familiar setting
  • Follows clearly defined group rules
  • Differentiates between friendly and unfriendly behaviour in others
  • Recognises sign for public toilet (Male/female)
  • Maintains privacy in public toilets
  • Identifies potential ‘safe’ person to ask for help if needed
  • Is aware of potential ‘stranger danger’ and knows how to respond
  • Understanding of many elements of the Talk Touch Triangle
  • Using the Steps To Relationships Book

  

 

How is SoSafe! taught?

The units are repeated throughout the week and key concepts are reinforced  at opportune moments throughout the day e.g. going to the toilet, changing for PE/swimming. This builds a solid understanding of the core SoSafe! language, so that it becomes embedded. There are a range of engaging activities used including Lotto games, flash card activities, and Social Stories©.

 

Some of the Key Vocabulary:

Private parts, public parts, mouth, bottom, penis, vagina, breasts, consent, private helpers, pants, vests, underwear/swimwear, private places, public places, private things/actions, bath, shower, underwear, tampons, diaries, bathroom, toilet, changing room, bedroom, male, female.

 

N.B. it is important that factual language is used for body parts to ensure absolute clarity about what these parts are called, and the concepts of public and private and consent. Euphemisms for body parts can be confusing and not known by everyone, so a child saying ‘my button was touched and I don’t like it’ may be misunderstood, but factual names will not be.

 

Examples of resources:

 

Further support for parents/carers:

 

We recognise these are difficult concepts to teach our children and it can be daunting, even embarrassing, to approach these subjects. Using principles from the SoSafe! program helps to give clarity in the messages for young people with SEND and for teaching staff and parents/carers to deliver them.

 

You can find more information about SoSafe! on their website: https://sosafeprogram.com/

 

Pyramid Educational Consultants, who deliver SoSafe! training in the UK also often facilitate free overviews on SoSafe! to give information about what it is and how it is taught, click the link below to sign up:

SoSAFE! Overview Free 1 Hour Talk (pecs-unitedkingdom.com)

 

If you have any concerns or questions about SoSafe! please contact Sammy Nour via the school office.

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