RSE KS4: Teaching Them Young
Presenter and YouTuber Mimi Missfit takes seven British teens to Holland to learn from the world leaders in sex education.
Mimi had no sex education until she was seventeen which, in her opinion, was far too late.
Three British and two Dutch teens join a primary school class of six year olds in their relationships and sexuality class.
During the class discussion, they talk about who’s been in love before, and what that feels like, with one student saying it’s like “tickles in your tummy”.
The children discuss same-sex relationships, and that it is completely normal for a boy to love a boy, and a girl to love another girl, with one child identifying these women as lesbians.
The teacher Paula explains when you start talking about these subjects at such a young age, it becomes less awkward to discuss it as time goes on. Paula highlights how children often give the “perfect answers” to these questions and that it’s important to let them have the input in these classes.
This short film is from the BBC series, Mimi on a Mission: Sex Ed. For further episodes please visit the BBC iPlayer.
Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, we strongly advise teacher viewing before watching with your pupils.
Before watching the film
We advise making yourself familiar with the content and considering carefully whether it will be appropriate and of use for your specific cohort (every class is different, even if they are in the same year group).
Check your school policies to make sure you follow school guidelines and talk to a member of the SLT (Senior Leadership Team) if in doubt about anything.
Check to see if any of your class have any child protection issues or are vulnerable children.
Once you are confident that this is the right resource for your pupils, watch it through alone and consider how it would work best for you all.
This short film might also be useful for teachers to use in CPD sessions (Continuing Professional Development).
During the lesson/watching the film
Set up a working agreement with the class and create a list of ground rules for the session so everyone feels safe and able to talk and join in discussions without being judged. Remember to include a reminder to talk to a trusted adult if anything in the film makes your students feel uncomfortable – perhaps create a list of ‘go-to’ people in the school with them.
You could start the lesson by discussing the title ‘Teaching Them Young’ and using this as a starter. (NB: Discussion can be in pairs, small groups or as a whole class – choose what works best for your pupils).
The film shows Mimi with some British teenagers in the Netherlands (one of the world leaders in Sex Education), where they visit a primary school and take part in a sex education lesson.
It starts with Mimi considering her sex ed when she was younger and this might be a good place to start with your pupils.
She begins by discussing how she didn’t get a lot of sex education when she needed it.
This could be a good place to start your discussion:
- What do your pupils feel about their experience of relationships and sex education in school?
- Do they feel they got it when they needed it? Why?
- Mimi also mentions that teaching sex ed at 17 is way too late. Do your pupils agree?
- Looking back, when did they feel it would have been the best time and why? (In the Netherlands they start their sex education in the first year of primary school which the film goes on to explore.)
Get some discussion flowing about this – there are likely to be many different experiences depending on the different schools they went to – make sure all feel valid (refer back to working agreement if required).
The young children in the film talk very openly about love – who they love and how it feels.
Do your pupils have any thoughts on this?
Do they agree with Paula – the teacher, when she says that “When you start talking about these subjects with children the age of 4 or 5 years old then it’s not strange any more if you talk about it at the age of 11 or 12”?
One of the British teens, Munashe, continues the discussion further. He says he didn’t start his sex ed until around Year 9 (13-14 years old). Do any of your pupils feel they started too late?
The teacher, Paula, discusses emotional feelings and how she thinks these are very important – more important than lessons about the human body (vagina/penis.) Do your pupils think she is right or not?
What subjects do your students think need to be covered and why? (You might need to remind them of the working agreement again here).
She goes on to talk about how to teach sex education, saying that she feels it is important to be open and to let the children talk because they give "perfect answers and it’s very good to listen and let them give you the input to talk about it."
Munashe says “…the more we talk about it, the more normal it becomes to us.” What do your pupils think? Could teachers learn from this?
Another aspect to consider and discuss, as mentioned by Paula, is how social media adds to this need for relationships and sex education at a young age.
After experiencing this lesson Munashe adds a message to teachers: “…If you are going to teach sexual education to students make sure it’s from a young age to make it normal… cos it’s something in our world and whether we like it or not we’ve got to deal with it.” Do your pupils agree? Let them discuss this.
Ask the class:
- If they had a message for teachers for their relationships and sex education, what would it be? (Perhaps you could get each pupil to write this down and then you can use it to plan you and your colleagues’ relationships and sex education in the future – giving your pupils exactly what they want/need).
At the end of your session allow time for any questions or further discussion, pull everything together and make sure you allow for some quiet reflection at the end.
Always check in with the group and remind them to talk to someone if anything they have seen or discussed has made them feel uncomfortable and always signpost where they can get further support or information both within and outside of school (ChildLine will talk to people right up to the age of 19 for support and is free to use).
These short films were created in consultation with a PSHE education expert and will fit within:
- Citizenship and PSHE (RSE) in England.
- The Curriculum for Excellence (Health & Wellbeing Education) in Scotland.
- Learning for Life and Work in Northern Ireland.
- Personal and Social Education (PSE) in Wales.