Why the “Path to Misery” Leaflet Will Never Get Far in Schools

Apparently a leaflet has been sent into schools telling students “sex before marriage” is a “path to misery”:


Here is my response as a teacher:

Dear Family Education Trust,

I hear you have sent a pamphlet for teens into “EVERY SCHOOL IN THE COUNTRY” (according to the Independent headline).  Just one?  For each school?  Now I am assuming you didn’t send it to primary schools?  I mean it mentions lust and sex and all sorts of stuff!  So lets assume you sent it to secondary schools my googling reveals that that there are  3,225 maintained secondary schools in England with with 3,146,080 pupils. This means your single leaflet needs to be shared between 976 pupils on average! (Now I didn’t include the 223 maintained secondary schools in Northern Ireland, the 376 publicly funded secondary schools in Scotland and the 223 maintained secondary schools in Wales, because I didn’t have time to get the pupil numbers too but you get the idea!)   So this leaflet “for teens” isn’t actually going to get to the teens, is it!?  Oh and by the way that was an example of using FACTS/EVIDENCE to support what am saying.  You should try it sometime. (My sources were here, here, here and here)

Now who did you send the leaflet to in this “every school in the country?”

Did you send it to the headteacher?  If you are lucky it will be delegated down and down and down until it most likely reaches the bin (but a few more people may see it this way).  If you sent it direct to the PSHE co-ordinator it will probably be quickly reviewed during the cursory scan of a overstuffed pigeon hole on a quick coffee dash to the staffroom and then probably binned, as teachers get a whole lot of crap sent to them everyday.

Possibly, if you are incredibly lucky a particular teacher may chance upon it and think- “oooh wonder if I can somehow use it in a lesson, I am always looking for new ideas”.

But then this raises further questions:  “I only have one- I really need a class set of 30- or at least 1 between 2”. Now do you expect the schools to order more of copies of this free leaflet having seen how “amazing” it is?  This “What is Love?” pamphlet isn’t yet available on your website although your previous pamphlet “Too Much Too Soon” costs £50 for 25.  Yet there are the fabulous FPA, Brook, and Bish leaflets amongst others which all offer us much much better value for money.  They cost around £6 for 50 copies of a decent evidence-based peer-reviewed leaflet and often we can get these leaflets for FREE in schools from our local contacts.  So how much would you expect us to pay for a class set of this leaflet?

Also, as a teacher, I need to carefully consider whether this is a suitable pamphlet to share with all my students?  Hmmm lets explore this one further:

Is it inclusive?  Does it meet the needs of all my learners?

NO – it doesn’t appreciate that many of my learners come from single parent families or unmarried families.  It also doesn’t recognise gay relationships or mention civil partnerships.  This would anger and upset many of my students who would feel I was giving them a resource not relevant to them.

Is it written in a way my learners can understand?

Not really.  Not to dumb down to my students but there is an awful lot of text in there- knowing my lot half of them will have switched off before the end of the first paragraph especially as the language isn’t student friendly.  And as for the pictures- Cheeseorama- my lot would be happier drawing moustaches on them!  I could also go on further about the language used in the pamphlet but that has been covered far more eloquently than I ever could by  Education for Choice,  tessakendall and sreproject so I will leave that, other than to say telling my learners:  “where a sexual relationship is pursued to express passing feelings and emotions, it is ugly and destructive and will lead to misery and regret” is definitely NOT going to engage with my students some of whom maybe sexually active and quite happy about it.  Do you have an evidence base for this statement?

Does it include material I can easily adapt into a lesson?

Nope – there are no thought-provoking questions other than the leaflet title “What is Love?” and to be honest I don’t really feel that the leaflet answers the complexity of “what is love?” other than to rant about what it isn’t.  I can think of a dozen better ways to explore “what is love” within a lesson (in fact I did so here) .   A teacher would need to do a lot of work if they wanted to even think about using this “resource” with one of the 976 pupils it was aimed for and to be quite honest we simply don’t have the time.

The thing is I think you find that most teachers of sex and relationships education do address relationships and the benefits of a stable relationship for a healthy sex life, we also probably cover love, physical attraction, infatuation, lust, commitment, faithfulness, and maybe even patience and perseverance.  All of which your leaflet covers.  However as experienced teachers with years of working with young people, we probably do it in a much better way that engages rather than alienates them.

For teachers of sex and relationships education if you want proper resources related to sex and relationships education, I strongly recommend you use The Sex Education Forum as a starting point: http://www.ncb.org.uk/sef/home.aspx . Their curriculum design section is fab http://www.ncb.org.uk/sef/resources/curriculum_design.aspx.  I also recommend you join the PSHE Association for further resources and support.

Now I really must dash away from my first ever blogpost (be kind!) as I am supposed to be writing a scheme of work on preventing Sexual Bullying- now that really is the path to misery for some teenagers.