Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Humanities - Sex Ed Is for Everyone: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Humanities - Sex Ed Is for Everyone: Resources

Article excerpt

Exploring relationships is vital for pupils with special needs.

Teaching young people about sex and relationships always has its challenges, and more so when those concerned have learning difficulties. So, it's hardly surprising that for some teachers of children with special needs, this is the first area of learning to be dropped from the timetable. But the Children's Society's sexual health project is trying to change this.

Research into sex education for disabled young people has shown it to be patchy. In some cases, this is due to the mistaken belief that they do not have the ability to enter into relationships. In others, there is a concern that talking about it will encourage inappropriate sexual contact. In fact, effective sex and relationships education (SRE) helps protect young people - for example, by increasing their ability to recognise sexual abuse.

At present, there is no statutory requirement to teach young people about relationships or sexuality, so SRE is dependent on the culture of the learning environment and whether staff have the relevant skills. Many teachers recognise its importance for disabled children, but admit they lack the confidence to deliver it effectively. Available resources are not always used well and more work is needed to promote the use of positive images of disabled young people.

Where do you start?

Basic life skills are fundamental to good SRE. Young people need to be able to make decisions, know how to give their consent and assert their needs. Covering topics such as self-image, emotions and the body are vital for subjects like public/private space, relationships, sexuality, health, puberty, pregnancy, STIs and contraception. It's a good idea to meet parents to discuss areas being covered. Once they see it's not just about sex, they are usually more willing to engage. Parents and staff can create a programme of work that meets young people's needs. …

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