Supporting relationship and sexuality teaching

Issue: Volume 98, Number 13

Posted: 1 August 2019
Reference #: 1H9wWW

Teachers might worry about saying the wrong thing or providing too much information when delivering the relationship and sexuality part of the curriculum, but Family Planning offers them a range of support and resources.

Learning about relationships and sexuality.

Learning about relationships and sexuality is a lifelong process.

Relationship and sexuality education is a compulsory part of the curriculum for Years 1–10. The Ministry of Education recommends in its sexuality education guidelines that effective sexuality programmes need 12–15 hours of teaching time. 

Family Planning’s national health promotion advisor Amanda Hargreaves says some schools might not know this and may need to make changes. 

“Relationship and sexuality education is really important for our students, not only because it is part of the curriculum, but because it’s a lifelong learning process. Everyone has a sexuality, everyone has relationships and young people need support in being able to navigate those in positive ways,” she says.

There are 18 Family Planning health promoters in 16 centres to support schools. 

“Teachers are the best people to be delivering relationship and sexuality education because they know their kids and the community and they are the professionals in that space. We also are available whenever things get challenging,” says Amanda.

Community consultation needed

It’s important that schools consult with the diverse groups within their community to find out how they want this part of the curriculum to be delivered.

“Also that means the student voice – hearing what students think they need to be learning and what their needs actually are. That then impacts on the programme planning and delivery,” she says.

Relationship and sexuality education is usually delivered by classroom teachers at primary, intermediate and secondary schools as part of the Health and PE learning area. Amanda says teachers may feel anxious and vulnerable about delivering these aspects, but they should remember that children start learning about relationships and sexuality when they are young.

Learning happens early

“Parents are teaching their babies and toddlers about relationships and aspects of sexuality and it’s just a progression or opportunity to build on that knowledge. 

“We teach about consent from a really young age. At early childcare centres they are learning about ‘my body, my choice’, ‘stop it, I don’t like it’, ‘you aren’t being a good friend – that’s unkind’. The layering goes on through the years and then gets into contexts around sexual activity and sexual consent – how alcohol and drugs can impact on that too,” says Amanda.

Learning about relationships happens naturally every day, usually around social interactions, “so it’s important to focus on relationships and friendships and the positive qualities of those and include them in formal teaching programmes”.

Family Planning support for teachers includes giving advice, providing curriculum resources, and professional development opportunities. If teachers can’t attend courses, Family Planning staff can visit a school and offer tailored support. They’re also happy to be part of parent information evenings, and welcome phone calls or emails.

“We are really focused on supporting schools in delivering their programmes,” says Amanda.



Resources and courses

Click here to find out more about the Ministry of Education Sexuality Education Guidelines.(external link)

Family Planning has introduced its first suite of electronic teaching resources for Years 1–8 and a guide for Years 1–10. The Year 9 teaching resource is now available and the Year 10 resource is due within the next month or so.

Navigating the Journey | Te takahi I te ara is aligned to the curriculum and can be ordered through the organisation’s website. For resources for primary, intermediate and secondary schools click here(external link).

In September, free courses on using the Navigating the Journey resource for Years 9–10 will be held in centres around the country. For more information click here(external link).

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 11:51 AM, 1 August 2019

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