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sex education for primary children

Discussion in 'Primary' started by tinarouse, Jan 28, 2010.

  1. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    I think 'some people' are getting confused between hearsay and what s actually required.
    I also think 'some people' are getting confused between making Sex Ed statutory and making PSHE statutory. It is the latter that the government proposes at the moment. Sex Ed will still be formed of locally-made policies, in liaison with parents' groups and with the opt-out available except for the last year of secondary education.
    I still don't believe the stories that are being touted, and I would gladly investigate further if anyone were ever able to provide any evidence of such things taking place. But they never do. It's always just reported.

    Looking at what is currently outlined in the new curriculum for PSHE (or "Understanding physical development, health and well being programme of learning - personal wellbeing" as it will be called then) I can't see what it is that can be objected to.
    Is it the suggestion that young children should learn about simple physical changes to their body such as growth of hair and change of height?
    Is it the requirement to learn how to manage their personal hygiene? (A visit from the dentist from time to time)
    Is there an issue with the requirement that children should learn "to identify different relationships that they have and why these are important"? Should we not - as the guidance suggests - talk to them about relationships with family and close friends?

    If you have an issue with the way some particular schools are addressing SRE then you have several options:
    1) Don't send your child there
    2) Withdraw your child from SRE there
    3) Contact them directly to raise your concerns.

    But don't presume that your prejudgments that we are all teaching children how to commit buggery and go dogging are as true as you might imagine!
  2. Perhaps some authorities have different ideas on what should be taught. Is anyone else using the Living and Growing material that teaches Year 2 children about the *** and vagina with a cartoon drawing? This has a suggested follow up activity of drawing round a boy and a girl and labelling body parts including what they call 'sex parts'. This, for some children who still can't tell you where there ankle or elbow is!
  3. Interestingly the filter on here has taken out the word that we have been told we should be teaching to 6 year olds!

  4. And there in lies your problem. Have you actually asked your child's school to view the materials and see for yourself if it is appropriate? Or have you just taken your child's word for it and made huge sweeping judgements about the delivery of sex education? If you are only listening to hearsay rather than making proper inquiries for youself then sorry but I have very little respect for your opinion.
    I work in an area with large African and Carribean communities who on the whole tend to go through puberty early (we always have a couple of Year 4's who start their periods) and therefore we teach them about the basics of puberty in Year 4 so that they are all prepared and realise that it's a completely normal part of growing up. Quite frankly my main concern is that any young girl who starts here periods at school (or at home if they haven't been told about them by their family) is commpletely freaked out and knows they can come and speak to me or another member of staff for help. The only way that is going to happen is if we actually teach puberty in a way that shows it is a completely normal event that will happen to everybody before they have to go through it.
    As for teaching year 2's about their penises and vaginas, well they all have one or the other and they are all probably very well aware of it and one of it's primary uses for goodness sake (far more than their ankle I would imagine). Again if we show that this is just a normal part of our body (even if we treat it differently from other parts) then it actually makes teaching sex ed when they are older a whole lot easier because it's far less scandalous and giggle inducing.
    I know it's a old argument but the Dutch are far more open and pragmatic about sex (both at home and school) and start sex ed from a much younger age. Guess what, they have a far lower teenage pregnancy rate and the average age they lose their virginity is higher than the UK.
  5. Penis wasn't the word that teachers were concerned about in the Year 2 classes. Why do Year 2 girls need to know they have a ********** which to quote the video 'feels nice when you rub it.' if I remember it correctly. This would be far more appropriate later on in Primary school.
  6. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    It does suggest anything about rubbing the clitoris. It does however mention that "it grows hard now and then; it's a nice feeling"
    I have to say, as a man, I have no idea how relevant this is for KS1 children to know, but it certainly did surprise me. That said, I have no idea why we would ever want to keep it a secret from them.
    We use the Living&Growing series for older students, but use the video for older KS2 at the start of KS3, which suits our school. In my school, had we shown the same video to our Y7s they've have laughed it away as childish.
    It is for that reason that SRE policies are best decided locally. My school is very different to some of yours. And yours may well be very different to the one in the next village. As a parent you have every right to know what is covered in school-based SRE, and some might even argue the responsibility to find out about it. But you don't have the right to stop my children and their families from being offered it
  7. This is all quite disturbing but, alas, not surprising. I think the key question to ask is why are we teaching sex education to 5-year olds? Ostensibly it is to promote sexual health and healthy relationships but sexual diseases, teenage pregnancies etc have all shot up since we started to introduce 'sex education' to children. It makes it sound exciting, so of course children will want to indulge. As for healthy relationships, the best way of ensuring this is marriage, but of course schools will never, never say this is better than any other form of relationship, although they would be quite happy to demonstrate how to put a condom on a banana.
    So, what is the real reason for this state grooming? I would say it is to destroy childhood innocence, alienate children from their parents and promote the view that underage sex is 'normal' and inevitable, all the hallmarks of a tyranny, where morality and responsibility are turned on their heads.

  8. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    This is an oft-stated claim, but there is rarely any evidence to support it. For a start, we still have huge numbers of schools barely offering any form of Sex Ed outside of the statutory Science curriculum (4 out of 10 students apparently). The teaching of relationships and suchlike is too often lacking.
    On the other hand, the previously-mentioned example of Holland, where teenage pregnancies, for example, are a fraction of our own.

    makes interesting reading.
  9. Thanks for the reasurrance.
    But I don't read the Daily Mail (why do people assume that if one has a conservative moral view they must be Daily Mail readers?). I get my news from the BBC.
    I would expect the 5 year olds agenda to be simple, but sadly I have no faith in the government's or the local school's idea of appropriate, based on the experience of one of my kids (which I shared earlier).
    I have asked those in the know to post a link to the NC that explains what is required to be taught in a previous post - so I am happy to read the actual guidance. Maybe some kind poster will get round to adding that link.
  10. I appreciate you going to the trouble to point out the difference, but in reality, if one is part of the other then it is compulsory is it not at age 15?
    Sex Ed may well be formed from locally-made policies - which would explain the apparent diversity of approaches (and depths of detail) experienced by posters here.
    The liaison with parents may be more theoretical in some places. I did ask for a copy of what would be taught at my kids school, I was given some waffle about it not being planned yet, but was never sent it when it was planned.
    This I am aware of. I understand (though I could be wrong) that this ensures every child gets the right to being educated on the subject. Can the child waive that right by their own choice?
    Well, they are pretty unbelievable. But when your own kid comes home and tells you, I'd say that's pretty good evidence. Not sure any better evidence would be available unless they let me sit in on the class. Is that going to happen?
    So, on your quest for evidence - is the word of a child who attended the class good enough? If not, how would you go about getting better evidence?
    It is obvious that these things are important. The issue is, do I think it is the school's job to do it? Can I trust them to do it in a way I would approve of?
    At present, trust on PSHE is low.
    And as an 'interested' parent I consider it to be my job, I'll do it, and school can focus on why white working class boys are underperforming, and set my child up to be ready for the academic demands of secondary.
    Pretty obvious...
    But you have to know there is a problem first. Bit tricky when you don't get the info in advance when you ask for it, and only find out after it's started from your own kid. Even harder to do with a 5 year old who will be less eloquent in their description of what they were taught. In that regard it is a metter of trust, but because of experience so far I don't trust schools on this issue. So option 2 is most likely.
    Fair enough. I will put it down to that level of detail being a locally decided thing. But don't presume that it is as untrue as you might imagine.
  11. Actually I did make proper enquiries, but the school did not provide the information asked for.
    I have a good relationship with my child. I can tell when they are lying. I can also tell when they are disgusted. On this occasion I did take my child's word for it - I happened to believe them. If you like, I will ask other parents to ask their kids in the same class to verify.
    I was not aware of making sweeping judgements, I did share the experience of my kid. I did want to know if what was taught was required by the NC, or something imagined up by a teacher with an innappropriate idea of the boundaries.
    All very noble. And I agree puberty should be taught before it happens. But puberty, not sexual techniques and the other things I and other posters have mentioned that are beyond the requirement.
    What concerns me a bit about your comment (and I appreciate one comment does not show a person's whole viewpoint) is that you seem to think that just because the family hasn't mentioned it yet you can jump in and do the job instead. Answer me honestly - is there anything in the strategy that you actually use that gets you to involve the parents in this teaching? I am assuming that not all uninformed kids have parents they can't talk to - they just might not have discussed that thing. Do you tell the kids to ask their parents about it? Or do you just drop right in and do the job?
    You see, I will be (and have been) covering all this with my kids - I don't need or want the school doing it. I want it done in a way that I and my kids are happy with, and to avoid anything I feel is innappropriate. That's all.
    As I said in my previous post - trust where PSHE is concerned is low.
    As before - teaching this is my job, not the school's.
    Yes, yes, and certain religious groups in the west can claim lower teenage pregnancy rates and higher virginity ages too. But I don't think you will be arguing that we get all kids to convert to one of these faiths.
    So, back to my starting point. However reasonable the curriculum sounds, it is primarily the parent's job to teach this, and I want to keep it that way where my kids are concerned. For all the reasons I have gone into. Low trust in schools and strangers to do this in a way that supports my own parenting being an important factor.
    It's nothing personal, it's my considered view.
  12. I think lots of parents share this concern. And whether it is the intended aim of Sex Ed, it seems likely to have that effect.
    The report I linked to before (http://www.famyouth.org.uk/pdfs/TPS.pdf) gave an interesting finding:
    "In March 2000 the Gloucestershire Community Health Council published the results of a survey administered to 410 students at the Royal Forest of Dean College. One of the questions was: ‘When you first received sex education did you feel the need to experiment?’ Only 1.5% of the girls, but 45.4% of the boys, said yes. The majority of the boys (77%) had received sex education by the age of twelve."
    Now I know stats are never perfect picture makers, but one has to wonder whether the current approach of being ever more open, and starting earlier is likely to have the effect the government wants. The same report says the following with regard to the evidence that is supposed to support the current approach:
    "Several of the strategies refer to their policies as ‘evidence-based’ — clearly a phrase they have picked up from the TPU — without realising how weak the evidence is in support of their proposals. This is true both of the effectiveness of sex education, and of the easy provision of contraception.
    "The evidence that sex education is effective in reducing teenage pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases is so shaky that it is unwise to make any claims for it. There is no academically sound UK research at all. Most of the limited amount of research we have comes from the USA, and much of that measures changes in attitude rather than changes in behaviour. In other words, exposure to a sex education programme may result in young people knowing more about contraception, but not necessarily using it when they have sexual intercourse. Sex education lobbyists have contrived to conceal this lack of evidence, or even to misrepresent the state of the research.12"
    You will find the report enlightening, and not too long and boring either:

  13. invincible

    invincible New commenter

    In Germany (well, at least in my state), they start in grade 4, ages 9 to 10, though kids learn the real names of the body parts involved in first and second grades (ages 6 to 8). My school has the problem of a mixed grade 3/4 class so the 8 and 9 year olds learning what they should be learning a year earlier.
  14. Here you have highlighted two problems:
    Lack of reliability in what you hear about what has taken place during SRE lessons (whether down to lack of verbal skills or other factors)
    Lack of communication on the part of the school. This is something you should be pursuing with them if you have concerns over the content of the lessons or the resources to be used.
    Having intimated that some of my statements were rather sweeping (though I did quantify each one carefully in order to not cause such a misunderstanding), you have now made such a statement yourself. You have an issue of trust with one school, and to tar all schools and the education system in general with the same brush is inaccurate.
    To assume that a school's only responsibilty lies within the academic remit is naive in the extreme. Many teachers combine the role of teacher with those of social worker, child psychologist, counsellor, mediator and so many others on an almost daily basis.
    I do however, love your idea of 'starting SRE lessons in time for children to begin the maturation process'. When should this be? How can it be planned when every child is unique and there could be years between the first and the last to start to grow up?
  15. cariad2

    cariad2 New commenter

    At my school, SRE was traditionally taught in KS2 - basically preparing children for puberty, particularly making sure that the girls knew what they needed to about periods. Parents have always been informed, a meeting was held for parents who wanted to know more, and they were able to borrow teaching resources to preview them.
    But a couple of years ago, the whole staff decided that the way we did things, just made too big a deal out of SRE. Also, a few girls would have started their periods before they were taught about it at school - even if they had parents who had prepared them, they may not have known how to cope with dealing with their periods during the school day.
    We decided to change our approach, make SRE more of an integral part of the PHSE programme, and teach it throughout the school, gradually drip feeding children with more information as we felt it was appropriate.
    We begin in Reception, discussing things such as who is in our family, who is special to us, what we used to be like when we were babies, and what we can do now that we couldn't do when we were babies.
    As we teach Reception children about different parts of the body in our Ourselves topic, it makes sense to introduce the correct names for the penis and vagina at the same time. I don't really understand the worry that some people have, that this will cause children to "lose their innocence". It's not as if they are suddenly going to look between their legs and go, "Oh, my God! What's that?". They all know what they've got already, they just use different words for it.
    We do send a letter home, informing parents that we will be using these words. Most are fine about it, and the anxious ones are usually reassured after a chat. We've only ever had one who insisted on withdrawing their child. I've always taught the lesson with a parent helper in the room, and they've helped to spread the word that it's really nothing to worry about.
  16. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    how do parents then know when it is appropriate to remove their children if they wish to do so?
  17. I've been teaching my Year 4 class German and when we learned the numbers, the class descended into hysteria at 'sechs' (6). I, perhaps inappropriately, decided to try and diffuse the situation by putting it out there and said, "no, it's not 'sex', it's 'sechs'".
    I know this is just anecdotal, but those 8-year-olds obviously already think about sex and I think that if someone doesn't step in with them and stop 'sex' being something dirty, rude and funny, their childish naivety will be cemented. Secondary school seems too late, to me.
    I don't think teaching children about sex would make them rush out to have it. I think it would demystify it and pave a way for open channels of communication between kids and adults which hopefully would prevent them having sex in a bath because you can't get pregnant that way, or believing that AIDS is a gay curse (I caught a child in my class calling another child "gay" as an insult - he OBVIOUSLY heard that at home or somewhere else and needs that kind of **** ironing out)
    Sex on the brain =D
  18. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    Quite unacceptable, I agree. So, use your school's complaints procedures to address that. Don't tar every other school with the same brush of incometence.
    Well, firstly, I'd be politely asking to meet with the teachers concerned to discuss the actual events.

    It is quite possible that your school is indeed failing in its duty to inform parents, and is teaching a curriculum which you do not personally support. That doesn't mean that the other 99% parents feel the same as you. It simply means that you need to address the actual problem with your school, rather than trying to force your views onto the rest of the nation.

  19. I guess this comes down to whether you think the teenager reporting on the events of the class afterwards was telling lies or telling the truth.
    I did ask what evidence you would accept rather than a witness to the class, but a did not notice a reply to that question.
    Meanwhile, I will take a first hand witness as sufficient evidence, and knowing the witness well, call that evidence reliable.
    Not rocket science. But not a cure to the immediate issue either. Thanks for the advice.
    Perhaps I was unfair to apparently tar all schools. But consider the context. A school has been requested information and not provided it. A school has then included in its Sex Ed classes material which I find innappropriate and which some find unbelievable, and which others claimis not even part of the curriculum. The word of an attending child is not sufficient evidence apparently. Can I trust the next school to not also be taking same kinds of approaches? Will they permit it to happen within their walls, while finding it unbelievable to my face? It is a matter of trust. And as you point out, it is an educational system, so, perhaps rather than me tarring the schools, one school has perhaps tarred the system.
    On the other hand, can I believe you are right? That only one school is doing it wrong? You are very strong on defending school honour, the honour of the system, no doubt because it offends your honour, the honour of your particular instutution - and this is fair enough - but why then aren't you shouting about these schools who are abusing trust? Instead is it simply easier to not believe the accounts of people whose kids are witnesses?
    So, what evidence would you accept that a parent is likely to gain access to?
    I am a teacher, and that means I don't talk from a position of ignorance about the issues.
    Also I didn't say it was their "only responsibility", please tell me where I said that.
    They should focus on academia, it is true. But teaching Sex Ed to my child is my job, and if I don't like the way the schools do it - well, as the parent, that is up to me.
    All the more reason to leave it to the caring parent, who knows their child far better than any paid job overworked too much overtime more marking than they can deal with teacher ever would. I will decide the timing, after all, every child is unique - for some it may be too early at school with their fixed timetable.
    I undestand where you are coming from, and I mean you no disrespect. But you have not restored my confidence in the system, that any other school couldn't have the same issue.

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