Dear Parents- Support your children’s teachers to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity.


I know from my own experience of challenging homophobia & tranphobia in school one of my most significant fears apart from ending up in the daily mail  was the fear of parental backlash.  As it happens as I progressed with the work the parents were overwhelmingly supportive and the backlash  never actually came, I ended up kicking myself that I had let the fear stop me progressing with aspects of the work until my confidence grew.

Now I am doing my research into my masters challenging homophobia and I am finding a lot of evidence that suggests that a significant barrier to teachers doing this type of equalities work is fear of parental reactions. However research also shows that the vast majority of parents (90+%) believe it is important to include “understanding sexual orientation” as part of PSHE (Morgan, 2000 and Mumsnet 2012 and probably a few more but no time to hunt down the refs!)

This tells me there is a MAJOR lack of communication between parents and teachers on this issue. Therefore if you are a parent of school aged children I urge you to make your schools head and PSHE teacher aware that you are very supportive of work done to talk about sexual orientation, gender identity and challenging homophobic and transphobic bullying. This in turn should hopefully give teachers more confidence to actually do this work! Likewise Teachers- COMMUNICATE with your parents. Let them know about the work you are doing, their support will increase your confidence in doing this type of work.

Happy Educating.

A quick recap on this equalities and school policies issue so far.


People are probably getting lost in my many posts on this issue so too recap:

My main issues are

a) I’ve found 100′s of schools with problematic policies relating to the EXACT wording of current DfE SRE Guidance documentation. (DfE whilst mounting a challenge to those include “must not promote homosexuality” are keeping quiet on what they think of those that say “must not promote sexual orientation” given this is in their own current guidance for schools)
b) DfE removed “legalisation of homosexuality and abortion” from previous to latest draft history curriculum.
c) DfE for deliberately removed gender identity from a specific equal opportunities statement from previous draft.

I have real issues with the phrasing of the current SRE guidance and I have been wondering for months if it might be in breach of equality act.  It is very clear schools are confused with their rights and responsibilities on this issue especially given that
one of the schools with a problematic policy has published their equality policy online it states “we do not promote one life style choice over another” (implying sexual orientation or gender identity is a lifestyle choice, sigh.)

Will keep you posted.

Using the “proper words” for body parts- a gendered issue?


A year ago I wrote this for the New Statesman and on Tuesday the Sex Education Forum published this blog.

retweeting them yesterday @itsmotherswork asked in response

Which prompted this post as I needed to write a longer response than twitter allows for.

Personally I wouldn’t ever say any word to describe a body part is improper as it is just not a word I use (sounds a bit Victorian!), but obviously there are correct or scientific terms for body parts (penis) then colloquial accepted terms (willy) then slang or offensive terms (cock). That doesn’t mean the latter two are incorrect (if used about the right body part) but depends on context used in.

I have absolutely no objection to “bottom” being used instead of “anus” or “gluteus maximus” or “tummy” being used instead of “abdomen” as words to describe parts of the body for young children, children can build on the scientific terms for body parts as they grow up and tummy and bottom are widely accepted and pretty much universally known in English speaking countries.

I have HUGE OBJECTIONS to the fact that while “Willy” is a perfectly acceptable universal term to use for young children for the penis there absolutely no universal acceptable term for the vulva for children (terms range from the cutesy Fairy, NooNoo, Minnie, Twinkle*  to the rather cool Yoni (sanskrit for Vagina) frankly ick Front Bottom or Split).  This is about erasure of female sexuality, female identity- we are taught from a young age that our body parts are not even deserving of a proper name, they are either to be cutesey or shameful and mustn’t be discussed.  Have to be honest even I as a sex educator initially I was really not keen on the word vulva for a long time but in the absence of a better alternative**  it is what I use with my children***

Nowadays I am totally comfortable with the word vulva but I am 100% sure that the reason the DfE are completely refusing to specify Penis and Vulva and Vagina in the Science National Curriculum is because of a fear of the word vulva. Penis is not the problem. Vulva (and possibly vagina) is. But in the absence of a universal accepted colloquialism for vulva then vulva is what we must use- to do otherwise is a potential route to confusion, worry, stigma and shame.  It is a safeguarding issue not to have a common language of a body part that might be touched inappropriately****. It is also a health issue to be able to talk about where itches or is causing problems and it a sexuality issue about learning to communicate about your own body so that as a sexually active adult you know your body is not a source of sniggering or shame.

So vulva is a proper word- embrace it, say it with me. vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva, vulva

*Twinkle  always makes me think of the phrase “twinkle in your father’s eye”- Shudder.

** I decided against vagina as not anatomically correct as refers to the internal genitals.

***Whilst being respectful of any made up slang words they choose to adopt for their own body parts – but must admit I did gently steer away from “front bottom” which was picked up at nursery!

**** I read somewhere about a dad investigated at length by social services after a child was crying about “Daddy hurting my NooNoo”- NooNoo being her toy rabbit he had put in the washing machine- maybe an urban legend but makes a point.

A portrait of me


My 3.5 year old proudly presented me with this picture she had drawn of me. I’m very impressed.

20130730-152911.jpg

Any resemblance to anything else is entirely co-incidental yet rather amusing given my dayjob (which hasten to add she knows nothing about as I am very careful to keep my work stuff age appropriate)

Should schools teach about porn? A letter to concerned parents.


Dear Concerned Parents,

What does the question “Should schools teach about porn?” conjure up to you? What if I missed the “about”? Should schools teach porn?  Are you now worrying sex education is going a bit Monty Python but with pneumatic breasts, no pubic hair and enormous penises!?  (N.B. Despite the misleading headlines watching porn with students is absolutely not an option- it would be entirely inappropriate and possibly illegal)

The media has taken the first edition of the Sex Educational Supplement (the new SEF magazine) and gone with some rather interesting headlines including

“School pupils should be taught ‘not all porn is bad’, advise experts” (Telegraph)

Schools ‘should teach how to view porn’, sex forum says (BBC News)

Teachers should give lessons in pornography and tell pupils ‘it’s not all bad’,  experts say (Daily Mail)

As a parent are you suddenly very alarmed by these headlines? Just what exactly do teachers want to cover with my precious innocent children? Is your gut reaction now NO WAY THAT IS NOT ON! SCHOOLS SHOULD ABSOLUTELY NOT TEACH ABOUT PORN. 

My gut reaction to those headlines was to wince and sigh, because I’m a parent as well as a sex educator. I know that efforts to discuss porn with young people are aimed to provide a safe environment to discuss that porn isn’t necessarily a realistic depiction of sex,and that recognizes that young people can be exposed to very sexualised material from a young age and aims to help give them the tools to cope with growing up in a world where porn is only ever a few clicks away.  We can try and shield them from it as much as we like but ultimately past a certain age that is going to be a futile endeavor and I want my children to recognize, expect and achieve consenual healthy relationships including sexual ones.  I want them to be able to be critical of media messages about beauty, sex and sexuality, gender roles, and most of all I want them to be safe.

That is exactly what teaching about porn aims to do.

So in answer to the question Should Schools teach about porn?- ABSOLUTELY!*.

It’s a shame the media prefer sensationalist misleading headlines (whilst at the same time reinforcing the exact issues Sex Education is working to confront) rather than actually reporting how these lessons can help young people to grow up healthily and safely.

So please when confronted with headlines like these- take a little time and do some digging to what is really going on. After all, doing just that is Media Literacy 101 and exactly the type of things I want to be teaching my kids and yours. :) Here is another view and here is the exact resource blown out of all proportion.

Yours

SexEdUKation

*P.S There is a caveat to that- my expectation is that teachers delivering this material should be well trained and supported by their school community and appropriate educational materials. This topic is too important and too sensitive to get wrong. Not least if you don’t want your school to end up in the Daily Mail!

P.P.S A large part of this debate seems to stem around covering issues that are too sensitive and controversial and therefore should only be covered by parents. Which is all well and good in an ideal world where all parents feel equipped to have these conversations with their children, but in the real world where children and young people  miss out on discussions around sex and relationships due to parental fears, embarrassment or lack of knowledge, then schools can have an important role to play.

As a parent I want my children to have a safe space in school to discuss some of these issues with someone other than me. I’d hope they’d talk to me but I also recognise and respect they may not want too. After all there is nothing more embarrassing than talking to your parents about anything to do with sex!

P.P.S *Update* Sex Education Forum have emailed a response to the media responses their network- pasted below for reference. Wholeheartedly agree with all of it:

1.   Teachers have a duty to teach a broad and balanced curriculum and their personal views, for example about pornography should not come into it.

2.   Good SRE promotes core values of respect, non-violence and care for each other and this extends to any discussion about pornography.

3.   The reality is many young people have seen pornography as it’s very accessible but many have never had a safe, appropriate discussion about it facilitated by an adult.

4.   Good teaching will encourage pupils to reflect on their values and attitudes and will allow them to be ‘critical consumers” of media with ‘filters in their heads’.

5.   Teachers should make it absolutely clear what is illegal and that young people understand what consent is.

6.   Teachers should be trained to teach SRE.

7.   Pornography is not to be taught in isolation and the magazine shows that the scaffolding is core SRE themes: our bodies, relationships, gender, power, consent etc.

Sex and Relationships Education should be an entitlement for all children and young people


We are still waiting on the outcomes of the PSHE review where both the Sex Education Forum (SEF) and the PSHE Association submitted that:

 “SRE should be an entitlement for all children and young people.”

I think sometimes we get so bogged down in the “parental right of withdrawal from SRE” argument that we actually forget about the rights of the child to learn about their body, to learn how to protect themselves, to stay safe and to have happy and fulfilling relationships.  Absolutely these things can and should be taught by both home and school.  Yes parents have rights, but so too do their offspring. Young People are consistently complaining their SRE was “too little, too latetoo biological” so there is a clear demand from young people to have their needs met with an entitlement to high quality age appropriate sex and relationships education written into the statute.

I often think those that are against the idea of sex and relationship education often confuse innocence with ignorance.  Not telling my children about how their body works (in an age and stage appropriate way) would be remiss of me, in fact neglectful of me, as a parent.  Children and young people are desperate to learn more about relationships, about their bodies about how babies are made and about things that are going to be coming up for them before they happen so they are prepared for them.   We cannot deny them this right to knowledge and support their development into adulthood.

Currently all parents have a right of withdrawal from Sex Education apart from those aspects in the Science National Curriculum.  I would argue that any parent withdrawing a child from SRE in schools (Less than 1% of parents) should be able to provide evidence that they are covering the necessary knowledge, skills & understanding at home.

It will be very interesting to see how the governments responds to this when the PSHE Review is published hopefully by the Autumn.  I do hope they will listen and enshrine the entitlement for comprehensive SRE  for our children and young people in law.  Anything less is to do our young people another great disservice (like when PSHE failed to be made statutory in 2010).

What do you think?

Mumsnet sex ed survey- The results


I didn’t have time to do a proper post on this when it first came out, but whilst doing some housekeeping on the blog I found the draft post so I shall quickly finish it and post it.

Mumsnet did a survey of their members about sex and relationships education back in November 2011 and the results came back with overwhelming support for SRE which is really positive. Admittedly Mumsnet is not the voice of ALL parents but nevertheless I was really heartened by the results, parents are often a lot more supportive of SRE than the media and government usually give them credit for thanks to the tiny minority of vociferously anti-sex education types who seem to have the ear of the media and certain MP’s.

The survey revealed just how supportive Mumsnet members are of comprehensive sex education.

  • A very high proportion (98%) were happy for their children to attend SRE lessons
  • 92% think SRE should be a compulsory subject in secondary schools
  • 69% think SRE should be a compulsory subject in primary schools
  • 90% think there should be a statutory duty on all schools, including faith schools and academies, to deliver comprehensive SRE

http://www.mumsnet.com/campaigns/mumsnet-sex-education-survey

So although I am posting this several months later, I am just adding it as a gentle reminder for us parents to show their support for their schools SRE , to show the media and the government that parents want this for our children and to support those delivering it in our schools.

 

An open letter to Matthew Offord MP re. same sex marriage, teachers and schools


Dear Matthew Offord,

I was genuinely shocked to read your response to Nick Lansley’s partner about same sex marriage, as it seems you are suffering from some very basic misconceptions about how schools and how sex and relationships education should work. As I am not one of your constituents I thought I would write an open response to you on my blog.

Before I go into your problematic response about schools I need to ask you about your statements:

“It is my strong personal, moral and religious belief that the institution of marriage is to provide the foundation of a stable relationship in which those two people of the opposite sex procreate and raise a child. That is physically not possible for same-sex couples so I don’t see the point of introducing a law to allow this”

Can I just ask you where you stand on opposite sex couples who are infertile? Who don’t ever want children? Who marry past the age of menopause? Should they still have the legal right to marry? Based on your statements I would assume you would be campaigning for an end to marriage in these cases, or do they get an exemption because they are heterosexual?

In your letter you stated:

“In regard to education, Section 403 of the Education Act 1996 places a legal requirement on schools to teach children about “the importance of marriage”. If marriage is redefined, schools will have no choice but to give children equivalent teaching on same sex marriage, even those children of a very young age, including those at primary school.”

Can I ask you exactly what you think is wrong about that? The 1996 law is sixteen years old and needs updating as does the whole of the legislation and guidance relating to Sex and Relationships Education. We currently only have the 2000 DfE SRE guidance (twelve years out of date) and we are still waiting on the outcomes from the PSHE review. Both the law and guidance pre-dates the Section 28 Legislation (which only actually ever applied to local authorities not schools directly) and also needs to be updated in light of that. There is no mention of civil partnerships in the guidance for example. I absolutely agree with you that teaching about marriage is very important, but I would argue that teaching about equality, tolerance and respect is even more so.

What exactly is your issue with primary school children talking about same sex marriage? Are you falling for the classic ignorant assumption that discussing sexual orientation means you also have to talk about sexuality and sexual activity? You really can separate the two out you know- talking about gay marriage to primary school children does not mean you have to talk about “gay sex” at all. (By the way the concept of “gay sex” is erroneous anyway. Being a sex and relationships educator I do feel I have to point out that the spectrum of sexual activity is NOT confined to one particular sexual orientation. Any sexual activity you can think of can be carried out whether you are in a same sex or opposite sex relationship.)

Alternatively are your worries that talking about same sex marriage to primary school children might make them gay? I have worked with young people for 12 years now, let me tell you that talking to young people about different sexual orientations DOES NOT MAKE THEM GAY. What it absolutely does do is make them more tolerant, respectful and understanding of people’s differences. Can I ask you if you think it is acceptable for a young person to be bullied because of their perceived sexual orientation? To live in constant fear of persecution by people who don’t understand them? One of my proudest teaching and learning moments was covering a lesson on homophobia with a class, a boy with strong faith views shouted out “I WANT TO KILL ALL GAYS” he was angry and convinced this was a course of action they deserved. By the end of the lessons he came to me and said “Miss, I still don’t like it and neither does my faith, but I get what you mean now about not being mean to someone because of it.” For him that was the most monumental shift, and he was a violent angry young man, I have absolutely no doubt that he would be the type to beat someone up for acting “gay” whether or not they actually were. I strongly believe widespread teaching of such lessons would go a huge way in reducing incidences of homophobic bullying and violence. Surely you agree that a reduction in hate crime is a good thing?

Your letter makes it clear you are a man of faith however all major religions teach tolerance and respect and you absolutely can teach about different sexual orientations in a way that does not conflict with faith views. What you seemed to be advocating was that schools be absolutely silent on the issue of sexual orientation, which can only lead to more bullying and violence against individuals who may or may not turn out to be gay but they are perceived to be “different”.

Thanks to addressing issues of homophobia within my previous school, a girl who had previously contemplating drastic steps because of her sexual orientation, had the confidence to confide in me she was a lesbian and from there was able to come out to her mum. Her mum later said to me “I’m glad that she could talk to someone when she couldn’t face me with it, and I’m grateful and relieved that the school were there to support her, without the support who knows what she could have done.” I made a difference to that girl’s life and since then I have devoted my teaching career to supporting young people and the people that work with them around issues in Sex & Relationships Education. It is not over the top to say it really can save lives. Thankfully schools now have a moral and legal duty (see Equality Act 2010) to support all students regardless of ability, gender, sexual orientation, race or religion, and when given the opportunities they do this very well indeed.

You asked “So what will happen to parents who because of religious, or philosophical beliefs take their children out of lessons? ” I also would very much like an answer to that. Parents currently have the right to opt out of Sex and relationships education lessons (but less than 1% do). I would argue that young people should all have an entitlement to sex and relationships education lessons- and if it is not provided by the school then I would expect parents to provide it including teaching about different sexual orientations. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual (LGB) people EXIST, parents simply cannot deny that. They have existed for more than the 2000 years you are glad that “homophobia” has been enshrined for. Well you actually called your homophobic beliefs “views” you stated:-

“Discriminated against and persecuted because they hold views that have been enshrined in our laws and have been the cornerstone of our society for two thousand years.”.

Can you please give me a “for instance” where someone with “views” such as yours has been “persecuted or discriminated against” to the same level as someone who is LGB (or Transgender). Has your stance in life ever led to Verbal abuse? Violent assaults? Being disowned? Murder? Suicide? No? Then please do not be so insulting as to be speaking from a position of privilege and claiming the same level of victimisation. Because it simply IS NOT TRUE.

Your letter asked:

And what of the teachers who object to teaching about same sex marriage. Will they face disciplinary action? How will it affect their careers?

Currently all teachers are expected to have the ability to teach Sex & Relationships Education. It is enshrined in QTS 21 of the Qualified Teacher Standards (although this is likely to change following the current review of teacher skills requirements). However thankfully many schools only ask for teachers willing to cover such topics to cover them, usually they will get additional training for this. This is important. I strongly believe no teacher should ever be forced to teach a subject they are not comfortable or trained in. All teachers are expected to uphold the law and school policies. This includes the Equality Act which “makes discrimination against someone for their real or perceived sexual orientation illegal in the provision of goods, services and facilities. Section 13 of the Sexual Orientation Regulations says that all students have an equal right to education, regardless of their real or perceived sexual orientation.” Therefore I would argue that teachers absolutely should teach about same sex marriage as part of sex and relationships lessons, but I absolutely agree it needs clarifying in law for those teachers in schools expecting all teachers to provide sex and relationships education. Having an ignorant homophobic bigot deliver lessons about homophobia could be incredibly damaging for the young people in those lessons and they are my priority. Not the tiny minority of teachers who may have views that conflict with their duties and responsibilities as teachers and who damage their own careers accordingly. Thankfully the vast vast majority of teachers I know are very supportive of challenging homophobia in schools when given sufficient support and training to do so. They know the damage homophobia can do to our young people.

You also asked:

Will same sex marriage be covered under such subjects as citizenship forming part of the main curriculum taught to our children and tested through examination?”

PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education) and Citizenship are two very distinct but complimentary subjects. The law and curriculum surrounding both of them could definitely do with clarifying and updating, but I think you will find that the current debate about changing the law around same sex marriage has already been covered in many citizenship lessons across the land already. It is relevant to the subject and topical. I suspect some students may end up doing coursework on it. It’s already happening. Is that a problem for you?

You stated you have a “strong personal, moral and religious belief” in “the institution of marriage”, As a happily married heterosexual woman I also have a strong personal moral and faith in marriage, I strongly believe it is an institution all couples in loving relationships should be able to enter. In fact Chief Justice Margaret Goodridge said it far better than me:

Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations….Without question, civil marriage enhances the “welfare of the community.” It is a “social institution of the highest importance.”

Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family…. Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition. Tangible as well as intangible benefits flow from marriage. The benefits accessible only by way of a marriage license are enormous, touching nearly every aspect of life and death. It is undoubtedly for these concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a civil right. “

It was my personal and professional values and attitudes that compelled me to respond to your letter. Finally you stated “I do not believe that same sex marriage would serve to enhance British society or its values.” Could you please explain to me how same sex marriage would affect “British Society and values” in any other way than show we are a tolerant and accepting nation that recognises and celebrates individual human rights?

Yours Sincerely

A Teacher of Equality, Compassion, Empathy and Respect.

Sex Education Video or “explicit sex film”?


Okay so today I read this, and this and I decided I needed to blog about this some more.

Firstly I need to add the disclaimer I am not a primary school sex education specialist as most of my work concerns secondary aged students however I am a mum of children who will one day be going to primary school so I am as keen as the next parent to know what is going on in schools regarding their sex education.

As it happens I have a copy of the BBC Active Sex and Relationship Education DVD* at home in my resource bank but I have never had opportunity to use it-  so I fired up the laptop to watch it in it’s entirety.  I’m afraid I don’t know how to screen grab, but I insert the same pics as from the Mail website:

In the articles I linked above, the word “graphic” is continually used but to be frank, often the only thing graphic about them is they are drawn images, I have definitely seen a lot more graphic explicit cartoon images than those just by doing a google image search! I think this is a very deliberate use of the word to encourage people to jump to erroneous conclusions about the material. There are also some real life naked people within the resource, but I’m not sure what is “graphic” about a naked human body. Isn’t it simply what we all look like under our clothes!?

The other word continually used is “explicit”,- one definition of “explicit” is “having sexual acts or nudity clearly depicted” which yes the video does show nudity and cartoon drawn or computer generated images- but the spin being put on it, by SPUC and the Mail, is that this is akin to showing pornography, and it is “paedophilic” to show it to children (there is another rant in me on about that vile accusation but will leave it for tonight!).  Believe me the videos are the least pornographic (and least sexy or titillating images I have ever seen!).  Obviously would be wholly inappropriate to deliberately show pornography to school children as part of a sex education lesson (but remember many of primary school children are seeing such images online or even in magazine stands without parental knowledge or explanation).   Yes the CD-ROM shows the mechanics of sex (which they call “making love”-and the importance of positive romantic relationships is continually reinforced), but to be quite honest, I would be more than happy for the vast majority of the CD-Rom to be shown to my children at 9 years old.  If I was a primary school teacher I would also be happy to use this resource in the classroom as it actually is a really good teaching tool.

Bearing in mind this resource is designed for 9-11 year olds (ie. it isn’t ALL to be shown in Y5),  as a parent I would probably be more comfortable if the “making love video” and “computer sex animation video” was shown at an age they typically start asking more questions about the actual mechanics of sex, which in my experience usually does come in year six/ year seven ie. when they are eleven-ish.   (However if they ask the questions earlier I would tell them or maybe show them those sections earlier.)

That is what is so frustrating about the media reporting on this.  It ISN’T “EXPLICIT SEX VIDEOS FOR 9YEAR OLDS” at all, but the headline “cheesy cartoon on “making love” to support 11year olds’ sex education” isn’t nearly as exciting is it?  I know how teachers use such materials- they will pick and choose the bits they are most comfortable with and leave out the bits they are not, I would be extremely surprised if many primary school teachers had shown the “making love” video or sexual intercourse sections to their nine year olds- (but if they had made a professional judgement that their class was mature enough and ready to watch that video with parental support, then I would also support them in that.).  It is important to also bear in mind their current playground misconceptions (plus the general sex in media issue that our young people are being exposed too constantly from a young age)  are probably a lot ruder and much more explicit than anything the DVD-Rom actually shows and clarifies.

It is so frustrating that yet again the media are seizing on a small section of a resource that may not even be used in 30% of primary schools (I have no idea how many schools use this resource but I would say 30% is a very generous estimate) and ranting about it as if it was indicative of primary school sex education as a whole when it really isn’t.  But even if it was – those videos and images are not inappropriate at all for Y5, Y6 and Y7 students to see.  I would be more than happy for my kids’ school to use that resource with my own children and I know many other parents who would feel the same.

Personally I actually am quite disappointed that yet again the government seems to have got sidetracked, into expending it’s energy on challenging a media provider to review a resource that has been already available for 5 years, instead of what we so desperately need which is to properly sorting sex education once and for all with proper guidance and training for teachers, and decent support for parents.  But I am hopeful and optimistic that this is coming.

For parents worried about sex education in primary schools and sex education in general please my previous posts:

Or feel free to contact me to discuss further- sexedukation@gmail.com

*The Mail article appears to be confusing this video with the Channel4 Learning Living and Growing resource which is also pretty decent but I don’t have a copy at home (it used to be available on teachers TV but isn’t anymore) but I have watched in full and again I would be more than happy for my kids to be shown diff clips at different age appropriate ages- led by their questions and needs.

Sunday Morning Live- The story so far- Updated 1st Nov


On the 16th October the BBC show Sunday Morning Live featured a “discussion” on sex education.  I appeared via webcam on this show and following my appearance I blogged an immediate reflection (here) .

On the 17th October I posted further clarification (here).  Many people were motivated to complain to the BBC and people shared sample letters that I posted here.

19th October- The BBC responded initially to one of the complaint letters (scroll to bottom of post here

20th Oct-

24th October- PSHE Association also responds “Our statement on the “BBC Sunday Morning Live Discussion”

25th October- The BBC responds further to complaints

26th October-  I responded via this blogpost to set things straight about how and why I was asked to appear.

28th October TES publish On the Naughty Step conduct that deserves a ticking off.

Watch this space for further developments.