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5 things you need to know about sexuality education

Thursday, September 5, 2019

National News

With its strong focus on the well-being of the whole child and how to look after their bodies, the Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum in New Zealand is an important part of children’s learning and provides huge benefits to them and their communities.

5 September is National Health and Physical Education (HPE) Day. We thought we’d mark the occasion by sharing some facts about the part of the HPE curriculum that we know best, namely sexuality education.

So, here are five things you need to know about sexuality education in New Zealand:

  1. It is compulsory - Sexuality education is a compulsory part of the school curriculum and is one of the seven key learning areas in the Health and Physical Education section of The New Zealand Curriculum (2007). Sexuality education must be taught at both primary and secondary levels, from year 1 to year 10. Once students reach years 11 - 13 they can select Health Education as a senior subject and complete NCEA achievement standards.
  2. Your opinion matters - Schools must consult their school community every two years on its health education programme. Health education is the only part of a school’s curriculum on which the law requires community consultation. The Education Act 1989 (updated in 2001) requires the Board of Trustees consult with the school community at least once every two years on how the school will implement the health education component of the curriculum. The Board is then required to adopt a statement on the delivery of the health curriculum based on the feedback from this consultation. So, ask your child’s school about this and get involved – your feedback is invaluable in supporting programme development.
  3.  It has wide-reaching benefits - Sexuality education has a strong focus on friendships and relationships. Students develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes that support positive and respectful relationships with others, as well as respect for themselves.
  4.  Teachers’ role in answering students’ questions - It is legal for teachers to answer any student question about relationships and/or sexuality. According to the Sexuality Education Guidelines (MOE, 2015, p. 33), teachers are legally entitled to respond to any questions that students ask in formal sexuality education programmes or at any other time.
  5.  You can ask to view the content of your child’s sexuality education programme - Parents and caregivers can ask to see their school’s sexuality education programmes. Schools are happy to share their lesson plans and resources with parents and caregivers. This is a great way to find out what sexuality education looks like at your child’s age. Most parents feel reassured when they know more about the content, and as a result show more support for school sexuality education programmes. It can also help them see opportunities to support their child’s learning through conversations at home.

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