Candle now offers Bespoke Events which support PSHCE curricula in Secondary Schools, particularly those aimed at Years 9-13.

Our new “Pret a Porter” “Sex Matters” conference focuses on Relationships Education (and presumes that students have a reasonable grasp of the mechanics of sex and contraception and of the existence of STIs)

Led by Dr Peter Vardy (author of the acclaimed “The Puzzle of Sex” (1997, 2009) and internationally well known as an expert in Values Education) supported by Charlotte Vardy (previously Head of Religious and Personal Education at Kingston Grammar School and an experienced teacher-trainer in the field of PSHCE) the event is designed to get young people critically engaged with how they conduct their relationships with other people.

We treat your students as adults, enabling and encouraging them to interrogate their own assumptions, recognize the existence of different perspectives and begin to analyse and evaluate different views. We have no particular religious or political “agenda” but seek to show that utilitarianism (the dominant secular approach to SRE i.e. physical pleasure maximising and physical pain minimising) is not the only possible approach to relationships, and that the Natural Law tradition (which all the major world religions draw on) deserves proper consideration.

  • Read the recent open letter to The Guardian demanding better Sex Education and that “relationships education should count for at least half of that teaching” (5th June 2014) – this is signed by 40+ experts including Dr Mary Bousted General secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Peter Wanless Chief executive, NSPCC, Ruth Sutherland Chief executive officer, Relate, Andrew Copson Chief executive, British Humanist Association and Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain Chair, Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education…

St Hildas Banner

Sessions include…

  • Sex Matters! This introductory lecture, crammed with examples from art and movies as well as examples from the news – and celebrity culture, gets students to consider the various purposes of sex and why decisions about sex matter in a bigger sense than decisions about many other things. Two different models of decision making will be set out – the crude utilitarian calculation, maximising pleasure and minimising pain, and the natural law approach, which considers how behaviour contributes to human fulfilment… or diminishes us.  A number of exciting “buzz” activities are included where students feed-back their ideas to the group.
  • The Ethics of Contraception.  This session, which can be reserved for Y10-11 students, explores the various methods of family planning available to couples including abstinence, highlighting the difference between barrier methods (with their added protection against STIs) medical and abortofascient methods, and explaining the difficult ethical questions which they raise.  This session leads onto an intellectually stimulating small-group activity, space and staffing permitting – or alternatively, we can provide this activity to teachers to conduct in normal PSHCE time.
  • Having it all!  This session, which can be reserved to Y12-13 students, considers the ongoing significance of gender in the 21st Century.  Girls often assume that they can have a full and equal career and have a fulfilling family life – but many women still feel forced to make a choice and some feel that they are discriminated against in the workplace even when they choose to prioritise their career.  Raising the difficult issues and asking the controversial questions, this session is essential preparation for the real world after school and university, equally important for boys and girls.  An intellectually challenging small-group session can follow, space and staffing permitting – or we can provide it to teachers for normal PSHCE time.
  • Pornography Matters!  This final session confronts the issue of pornography, considering the extent to which it poses a particular threat to young people and the options open to parents, schools and governments when it comes to minimizing potential harm.  A range of carefully selected background materials and activities will be provided to the school in advance, which could be given to students to prepare or used as the basis for PSHCE lessons on this topic before or after the conference. The session will conclude with a lively debate on the motion “This house believes that the UK government should ban under 18s from accessing pornographic material!”

Total running time, excluding breaks, will not exceed 4 hours.

The 2014-15 cost of this event for one school (unlimited numbers) is £899 or £1299 if other schools are invited (whether or not they are charged). This includes a free book for the school library as well as digital resources designed to consolidate knowledge and understanding built during the event and to provide opportunities for follow-up activities and extension. NB: We do not charge extra for travel, accommodation, additional speaker(s) or anything else: with Candle the price you see is the price you pay!

We are able to run other PSHCE events, either as “Made to Measure” events (where you select from a menu of tried-and-tested sessions and activities to suit your group’s particular interests and learning needs) or as a “Hand Crafted” event (where we create an event to meet your particular requirements from scratch).  

We have created and run excellent tailored staff INSET sessions for Form Tutors, Pastoral teams or all PSHCE teachers and can supply feedback comments relating to these on request: the price for these depends on numbers and the extent of preparation required and is by negotiation.  


“Sex Matters” was very well received at Portsmouth Grammar School, where we recently had a “dress rehearsal”.  Pupils used words such as

“interesting, brilliant speaker, clever, set up, enjoyable, 10/10, excellent, funny, made sense…”

and one boy wrote…

Good approach and good speaker who was easy to listen to, didn’t patronize or ‘baby’ us and use outdated language.  It was from a viewpoint I hadn’t really thought about…”