Friday, 26 November 2010

The government's plan for SRE

On Wednesday the 24th of November Education Secretary Michael Gov set out his white paper

The Importance of Teaching


I am both happy that SRE is mentioned and sad that it is so brief I can quote it in full, but does it mean anything for us teaching SRE in schools?

4.29 Children need high-quality sex and relationships education so they can make wise and informed choices. We will work with teachers, parents, faith groups and campaign groups such as Stonewall to make sure sex and relationships education encompasses an understanding of the ways in which humans love each other and stresses the importance of respecting individual autonomy.

Firstly great to see the government honestly stating that high-quality SRE is needed. It falls short of saying that it is needed in schools which is a shame, this does leave wiggle room for them to possibly claim that yes it is needed but not in school. The 4 groups it states it will work with is good but again it falls short it is missing an important element; young people! Working with a Christian charity I am encouraged to see that faith groups and campaign groups will be included. The direct mention of Stonewall is another encouraging inclusion as homophobic bullying is a significant issue for young people today. It is not the only issue and I sincerely hope the government will listen to a broad cross range of campaign groups to seek an understanding of the complete picture. More then anything else I hope the government will make genuine efforts to seek out the young peoples' views and needs.

As a passionate advocate of the need for relationship education to be central to any SRE structure I am very happy the white paper makes specific reference to "encompasses an understanding of the ways in which humans love each other" and hopefully any future measures from this paper will keep relationship education high on the agenda.

On balance I believe that this paper falls drastically short for young people and is far too vague allowing the government to state how important SRE is whilst not committing the government to any specific action or policy. Sadly I suspect that the Conservative lead coalition will end up producing a report and/or 'evidence' suggesting schools will have individual responsibility to decide what will be taught. At the same time I believe the government's focus on key subjects will mean they will not give any money or resources for PSHE and in a drive to save money schools will reduce or even drop its PSHE provision. Sadly this velvet soft endorsement of the need for SRE is hiding a string that will try and kill off SRE in schools.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

MP speaks out for compulsory Sex Education

I was happy to read today about an MP from wales standing up and speaking out for compulsory Sex education in all schools. It was a great blow when this was dropped from Ed Balls Education reform and sadly it now seems to have fallen off the political radar. However, young people are still engaging in risky behaviours at an early age and often feel like no one will talk to them about it. They have questions and don't know who to ask or where to get the information. I wish it was the case that all young people could have the confidence to ask their parents and the parents would have the skills and information to provide the answers. But sadly many families do not have this and as a compassionate society we must reach out to all the young people desperate for information and advice.

MP speaks out for compulsory Sex Education

Monday, 9 August 2010

A good question about Aims

I was recently asked this question and it made me think long and hard. Read my response below it.

*I would like to know more about your overall goal - in other words what is it you are trying to change. Do you consider it is more about raising awareness or changing behaviour (I am sure there are elements of both) and are you clear about the changes you want to see as a result of what you do - it will be very hard to measure the effect/impact of what you are doing without knowing this.

I would say that changing behaviour is my goal, firstly by changing attitudes towards sex and relationships and secondly by equipping them with skills that change their behaviour to stay safer. For me the 3 changes I want to see are

- a greater recognition of the emotional impact of sexual activity
- a delay of a young persons first sexual experience
- a greater proportion of young people using protection correctly when they are sexually active

My biggest worry is how to measure these three changes?

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Sexting Lesson plan

I am putting together a lesson plan all about sexting and more generally sex and technology. This is the rough plan I have got so far. I would love hear what you all think about it.

AIMS

young people will understand the possible emotional consequences of online sexual activities
young people will understand how to protect their reputation online
young people will understand the law regarding sexting

Blue String Game
to show how quickly information can be spread around.

Emotional intimacy of showing your body via pictures or webcams.
some kind of activity to show that the online world can be as emotionally impacting as the real world

How do you view the internet
is it a bridge between people
a bullet proof window
a gapping chasm
a long tunnel

Get 4 student volunteers divide into pairs
Sit facing each other, say one pair represnts real life one online life. say that the online group has to pretend they are divided by bullet proof glass
(2 dead laptops screen cut out)
give them some tasks to try and do

Wave at each other
Shake hands
Say hello
Share pictures (copy it)
Swap a chocolate bar
Try and make the other person smile
Call the other person "a silly mushroom"
Ask the other person to put their hands on their head.

then ask
Could you threaten the other person?
Could you punch the other person?
Could you say you fancied the other person?
Could you kiss the other person?
Can you comfort someone who is upset?
Can you let your family (living in Australia) know you miss them?
Can you show your partner your bedroom late at night?
Can you get your partner sexually excited?

Self respect (if you love you would)

Why would someone ask for a dirty picture?
- to laugh at you and bully
- to black mail you
- to show off to their friends
- they think it would be cool
- as a joke
- to get off (masterbate) over it (just like porn)
- because they miss your body

Friday, 4 June 2010

Ways To Say No Resource

Hello,

Just a short blog to share a simple exercise I put together based on an Oasis esteem material. This resource exists to help groups explore ways to say no in a wide variety of situation from ridiculous examples to serious situations. The exercise is aimed to be fun at the start and a bit silly and then it gets more serious. Key to this exercise is having two leaders comfortable to act and react to the suggestions from young people. Improv skills are useful.

Please have a look and let me know what you think.

How to say NO Activity plan

ways to say no (jpg)

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Sex Education in the 2010 election

The 2010 British election is today and this lead me to wonder what party would have the most positive impact on Sex Education. Now I have attempted to research as best I can but have found that it is not a major manifesto point. But we do know a few things.

Firstly the Labour goverment did originally propose that Sex Education should become mandetary and that parents should have their rights to remove their children removed for students in year 11. They tried to pass this on the last day of parliament and the tories blocked this. They specifically object to the clause to stop parents having the right to remove their children. Libdems haven't said a lot about the issue but it appears they did act in support of Labour on this issue.

To be honest I am not sure which party will do the best job at encouraging good quality appropriate sex education. Hopefully which ever party gets in will not set us back!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Completed training

Yesterday we finished our training course for local youth workers in the Oasis Esteem course. It was great fun, especially the final day with each youth worker delivering a mock session to the rest of the group (who all pretended to be young people). It raised lots of very interesting points about the topics and about classroom management. The group acted the role of young people with passion and commitment. Infact I think some (including myself) found it a great opportunity to misbehave.

All in all I'm very happy with everyone who completed the training, I can't wait to get them involved with some real lessons with real young people.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Evaluating the impact of SRE lessons

One of the most confounding challenges of coordinating a Sex and Relationship Education project across a city is how to assess the impact of such a project. Working in a limited number of schools for a relatively short period of time(a couple of years) excludes any regional statistics from being directly related or representative. Also regional statistics focus on two things conception rates and STI infection rates.

However, our Sex and Relationship project focus on attitudes and behaviours as much as biological consequences. It is difficult to assess the attitudes of a group. Interviews individually or in groups may work but it is very personal and questions could possibly be inappropriate. Instead of interviews we have written an anonymous quiz that attempts to evaluate both attitudes and looks at knowledge. We have used this in one school already I hope to post some of the statistical results in the near future.

Below is a small 2 page quiz is all about trying to evaluate what is the impact of a sex and relationship programme. The aim of this evaluation is to assess both knowledge and skills. Please download it, have a look and comment about how useful it would be to you.

Sex and Relationship Quiz

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Training Form

Some people have asked for the training form to be put only so they can download it. So here it is.

Esteem Course Booking Form

or type the following into your address bar    http://www.dbiz.org.uk/uploads/text/49.doc

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Meeting my key supporter

Today I had the privilege of meeting my works key financial supporter. I could not do my job with out his kind donatitions. Well I work up early to go meet him and I've got to be honest I was nervous. Whilst I was pretty sure that he would not object to my work, I was keenly aware that the long term existance of the project could depend on this meeting. The project has garenteed funding for the next 1 and a half years. Beyond that we do not have any guarentees. In fact he has publicaly said that he will not fund the work after summer 2011. After meeting him and his wife I wish this wasn't the case. He is a fantastic guy who has a clear passion for work which makes a differance and for work which builds in sustanability.

Before this meeting (and my pre-meeting prep) I had not put a lot of thought into sustanability but Chester is in a good state for sustainability. Mainly because the model we are using is to get local youth workers from local churches to be passionate about the work and therefore committed to the work. Then if my source of funding did dry up and the role had to stop hopefully the youth workers would carry on the work. Also as a city I believe we are above average in working together and hopefully this sense of community would encourage the project to continue.

If in a years time it looks likely my role will be ending soon I know I will focus my efforts on how best to encourage and facilitate this mutual support.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Sex-Fu Challenge

Just wanted to post a quick link to a fun little flash game I found today. It's from Canada on a interesting  website (sexualityandu)
made by the SOCIETY OF OBSTETRICIANS AND GYNAECOLOGISTS OF CANADA (SOGC). I like this game because it covers sex attitudes and sexual health questions.

http://www.sexualityandu.ca/multimedia/games/sexfu/index_e.asp

Friday, 29 January 2010

Two things surprise me

Two things surprise me regularly when I'm teaching SRE.
Firstly, how much some young people know about sex.
Secondly, how little some young people know about sex.

Strangely this seems true across all demographics of age, culture, up bringing and economic background. Some young people just seem to have a much greater awareness of sex at a younger age and some seem to be the complete opposite. This presenst some problems when teaching SRE. I know that if I aim too basic in my session I will be irrelevant to some of the class and more worryingly they may then decide to not ask me that question that they really want to know. On the over side if I aim high I may be concussing to people in the lesson or I may give them ideas that they wouldn't have thought of before.

I believe the best approach is to aim somewhere in the middle, never assuming anything. Ensuring all my language is clear and concise examplianing new terms as I use them. At the same time I aim to never let my language appear to encourage any activities at a young age. The big example of this has been Oral Sex.

In many lessons I have defined oral Sex saying "oral sex is when someone uses their mouth to provide pleasure to someone's genitals" sometimes adding "by licking, sucking or kissing for example."

I have discussed with a number of workers and a few teachers about this particular definition. Does the definition act as a short how to, encouraging young people to engage in an activity they may not have previously thought of. In a basic way it does, it gives the very basic technique but does it encourage young people to have a go? I'm not sure but currently I believe all it does is break down the gossip and misunderstandings that go around the school playground. Sometimes I ask the group to give some examples of the slang terms they use. This can again help young people to cut through misunderstandings.

At my recent lecture at The University of Chester, one of the students made the point that we should be working with the sick not the healthy and used this idea to support the aim of teaching SRE aimed at young people who are thinking and talking about the bigger issues. They need help and support. The young people who hadn't heard the terms or hadn't spent a lot of time thinking about it wouldn't be damaged by hearing some more details. Details that are clear and correct, not gossip or Chinese whispers.

Information isn't damaging (unless it is misinformation)

Friday, 22 January 2010

Oasis Esteem Sex and Relationship Course

In Chester we are hosting a 4 day Oasis Esteem Sex and Relationship Education course. Please download the attached JPG flyer.

[caption id="attachment_34" align="aligncenter" width="426" caption="Sex and Relationship Education Course in Chester"]Sex and Relationship Education Course in Chester[/caption]

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Visit to the University of Chester

Today I am visiting the University of Chester, Christian Youth Work Course. I am giving a guest lecture to the 3rd years about the role of Sex and Relationship Education in Youth Work. As part of the lecture I used a Powerpoint which I have attached to this blog post if anyone wants to make use of my quotes and figures.

Sex and Relationship Education in Youth Work

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Relationship Pyramid

I have based this exercise on the Intimacy Pyramid from the Oasis Esteem Programme. I have used lots of the same words but have added some extra words and changed some wording.

Simply the exercise works by getting the class into groups of around 3 or 4 and giving out the cards (holding back the cards that say sex).
- Ask the groups to pick the top 10 cards that they would want in a good friendship.
- Ask them to put the card into a pyramid with the most important card at the top.
- Go around the group and ask them to feedback the top 3 cards in the pyramid.
- After everyone has feedback, point out how similar people's top 3 cards are. Encourage the group that although we are all different we are all looking for similar things in friendships.
- Now get tell the group to make the pyramid into a romantic relationship by adding 3 cards and remove any cards they think should not be in a relationship pyramid.
- Ask groups to feedback the 3 cards they have added and explain the positioing of at least 1 of the new cards.
- Then give out some sex cards (the 5 cards on the bottom of the page). Some people will choose not to include the 4 cards describing 4 distinct sexual activities some may just use the simplified card saying "Having Sex". Make your decision based on the group you are working with.
- Ask the groups to decide if they think these cards should be included in a relationship pyramid. Let them spend a lot of time discussing the question. You can also encourage them to think about if they believe as they got older sex may get more important.
- Encourage groups to feedback what they have decided, (I don't recommend you force every group to feedback, as some individuals may be uncomfortable). It may also be appropriate to encourage the class to discus the different groups decisions.

Finish the exercise by reminding everyone that their are no right and wrong answers, we just want to encourage people to think about what their priorities are in relationships. I suggest its worth saying that sex is best kept for a relationship built like a pyramid and that this happens best in a long term/marriage what ever your pyramid look likes.

Now to make this exercise well you have to know the cards well. Don't aim to make sure everytime you do this exercise you will get young people making the same pyramid. There aren't right answers to this exercise. The process is more important then the pyramid. It helps young people think and talk about their priorities in relationships.  So if you use this exercise be flexible and look at the cards you are using, work out what cards you will use.

Below I have posted a jpg version of these relationship pyramid cards and a word document version below if you would like to change, remove or add your own cards.

[caption id="attachment_23" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Cards for a SRE exercise"][/caption]

Relationship Pyramid

Friday, 8 January 2010

True False SRE 6th Form Powerpoint

Ok I wanted to post a quick resource that I have created and used with 6th Formers. It is a True/False PowerPoint, unlike the PowerPoints I use with younger age groups it uses some more explicit language and terms.

All the images are royalty free and come from SXC.hu (an excellent website for anyone doing an kind of image work). You can use them for any not for profit educational work.

I am happy for you to use this PowerPoint for any sessions you are doing. Please credit me If you are using it. I have reduced the file size and preserved my pretty fonts by making the slide show into simple images.

True False 6th Form (jpg)

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

I can blog on the move

I can now write blogs on my iPod so hopefully I will be blogging more.

Sorry I'm a bad blogger

I apologise i started this blog and haven't used it. So i will try to use it more. To be specific I am currently planning a session for a 3rd year Christian youth work university students exploring the role of SRE in the youth work context. I will be sharing some information about the Oasis Esteem project which is currently the primary source of all the work I do.