RSE KS4: Teaching Relationships and Sex Education Positively
Presenter and Youtuber Mimi Missfit and a group of seven British teens go to a 'Safe Sex' class at a secondary school in Holland.
The class is taught by Ms Blokdijk, who teaches these sex education classes regularly. She admits when she was a trainee she found it a little awkward, but now it’s a lot easier.
She asks some questions from the textbook Long Live Love, teaches the teens about safe sex practices, and demonstrates how to put a condom on a fake plastic penis model, to promote safe sex and prevention of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Ms Blokdijk then reveals she has the same models for all the teens to try in groups, which creates apprehension on the faces of some of the teens.
They have a go putting the condoms on the model too.
The teens note the positive, relaxed atmosphere Ms Blokdijk creates in the classroom and that she is an approachable person.
Afterwards, Garthia and Joe reflect on the class and compare it to how different it is to more awkward-feeling, rushed sex education classes at home they have experienced.
Garthia found the lesson “weird” because she’d never had anything like it in London.
Ms Blokdijk highlights that there is not a perfect way to teach these subjects, but suggests that the goal is to simply give the children the information they need and answer their questions.
The key is that the classes offer information to teens which they can take and use to inform their decisions outside the classroom.
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
This film is suitable for 14-16 year olds however always make yourself familiar with the content and consider 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 it 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 always 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 RSE Positively’ 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 secondary school and take part in a sex education lesson on safe sex.
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 saying “In secondary school I completely did not learn about sex education at all. It was sprinkled here and there; wear a condom and you might have a period at some point in your life…the way that your teachers explained it then, you were more lost, you were more confused.”
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 any of them feel like Mimi? How and why?
Maybe you could ask your pupils to imagine having to teach relationships and sex education to classes. How would they feel?
Ms Blokdijk describes how she really likes teaching sex education because, “you can talk with the kids about a different subject.” But she admits it was “a little awkward” when she was training as she was “afraid to say things in the wrong way.” But after a while it got easier.
In the lesson, Ms Blokdijk addresses the issues of STIs and shows them how to put a condom on. What do you and your pupils think of this?
Joe speaks after the lesson and says how he felt calm there and found the teacher very approachable and positive which he thought was a really good thing for sex education.
- What do your pupils think made her approachable?
- What skills/attributes would their idea of a ‘perfect’ sex ed teacher have, to make them feel comfortable in an RSE lesson?
Garthia had a different experience in the lesson – she thought the lesson “was so weird” as she had never seen a lesson like that before. Did any of your pupils feel like this?
Joe makes a comment about teachers being nervous.
- Do any of your pupils have any experience of being taught by a nervous teacher in relationships and sex lessons?
- How did it make them feel?
Ms Blokdijk says at the end, “There is not a perfect way to do this. But just giving them the information and answering the questions that they have, that would be brilliant if that could happen in the UK as well.”
Jo and Garthia think that Ms Blokdijk is a really good example for teachers as she felt safe, non-judgmental and accepting (not critical).
Joe finishes by saying, “This is sex and it’s interesting and it’s weird but it’s also very important and it’s a really valuable thing that we have to learn about.”
Ask the class:
- If they had a message to help teachers overcome their fears and worries teaching relationships and sex education, what would it be? Perhaps you could ask each pupil to write this down and then pass these on to other colleagues, if appropriate, to support them in building their confidence in teaching these subjects.
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.