The seminal issues of sex education talk

7th March 2003 at 00:00
The articles and the leader on sex education (TES, February 21) are misleading and do not give a balanced report of this project.

I am an advanced skills teacher who has introduced this project into my school in Northamptonshire over the past two years. The course involves three blocks of lessons. Three teacher-led sessions in Year 9, four sessions delivered by trained sixth-form mentors to Year 9 and then finally three teacher-led sessions in Year 10. The training is intensive for teachers, two days to teach Year 9, one day for training sixth-form mentors and a further day for Year 10.

The course materials from the first to the last lesson go on at length about delaying first sexual contact, strategies to avoid risk, how to say no and discussions about the consequences of premature risky sexual behaviour.

Your articles will undoubtedly have been picked up by papers like the Daily Mail that will continue to misreport the parts that have been taken out of context. The line "What does semen taste like?" is such a point. This was one question of many in a part of an activity of how to deal with potentially disruptive and embarrassing questions that pupils could ask.

This is a major worry for some teachers when dealing with this difficult subject. The trainers showed how to cope with deliberately challenging questions in ways that would not disrupt the lesson. The comments about "gay sex" are also unhelpful: if a pupil asks a question about homosexuality, you answer it factually and move on ... this is not promoting it.

To suggest that this material is delivered within a moral vacuum is also wrong. Adding Power and Understanding to Sex Education (A Pause) is a small part of an extensive personal social and health education and citizenship programme where notions of right, wrong and moral behaviour form an integral part.

This is a very valuable project and I am pleased to say that next week the school will be continuing with A Pause teaching for Year 10.

Andrew Kerley

9 Foster Close, Kettering

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