SEX AND RELATIONSHIPS EDUCATION FAILING STUDENTS, NEW RESEARCH REVEALS
13 to 17 year olds forced to turn to friends for sex and relationships education (SRE), as teachers come up short.
• A survey of schools around Britain for Channel 4’s Battlefront shows half of pupils questioned (49%) felt they had received too little SRE in their schools.
• A majority of pupils (56%) are most likely to learn about sex from their friends.
• 82% wanted sex and relationships education to come from a trained young person
The survey, commissioned by Channel 4’s Battlefront Campaign and conducted by ComRes suggests that the current style of SRE lessons are not meeting young people’s needs.
Half (49%) of pupils say they felt awkward asking questions in their SRE lessons taught by teachers, compared to only 1 in 5 who felt comfortable asking questions. In contrast 67% of pupils were comfortable asking questions to a trained young person and just 8% felt awkward.
The solution may be for teenagers to be taught by trained older teenagers. After a peer-led lesson, the majority of students (70%) wanted to receive more SRE lessons taught by a trained young person compared to 3% who didn’t.
One year 11 teen summed up where she thought schools are going wrong. She said a peer-led SRE lesson is ‘a lot less awkward than other sex-ed lessons as the teachers are closer to our age and can relate to us more’.
Channel 4’s Battlefront commissioned the research as part of the ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ campaign. Campaigner Shereece Marcantonio (18) from East London has succeeded in getting the attention of Chris Bryant MP. On the 16th November, he will host a reception for her in the Jubilee Room of the House of Commons. Shereece will announce her findings to an audience of Parliamentary Groups, MPs, and celebrities. She’s determined for the Government to listen to her and try out peer-to-peer teaching methods in the National Curriculum.
Shereece has said, ‘My campaign has always been about changing the national curriculum, by trying to get peer on peer teaching into sex and relationship education. If we can educate kids in a relaxed and engaging way, we can help avoid unwanted pregnancies and help teenagers cope with their first sexual experiences safely.’
It’s not only teenagers who’ve realised the sex education curriculum needs to change NOW. A spokesman for the Department for Education has said, ‘We are carrying out a wide, internal review of the PSHE curriculum to strengthen classes to address weaknesses reported by Ofsted last year.’ Dr John Lloyd, who is a Policy Advisor for the PSHE Association sees Shereece’s research as vital and will be using Shereece’s findings to guide his review of the PSHE system.
Secondary schools across the country (London, Bristol, Bath, Swindon, Manchester and Wales) were keen to be included in the survey. Award winning peer-led programmes RESPECT and Dance4Life came in to the schools to teach peer led sex education lessons to year 9 to 12 teens. A day before the lesson took place, pupils completed questionnaires relating to sex education previously received. After the lesson, pupils filled in another questionnaire focusing on their peer-to-peer experience.
According to Britain’s Family Planning Association, Britain has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Western Europe. This new research reveals that teens across the UK see peer-led SRE the most effective way forward.
Battlefront surveyed 1123 school pupils by self–completion between 10th October and 2nd November 2011. Students were in years 9 to 12 in nine schools across the country.