New relationships and sexuality education guidelines for schools

Two new sets of guidelines are being provided to schools to strengthen the teaching around relationships, health and sexuality, Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin announced today.

“The new guidelines will ensure that the teaching of relationships and sexuality education in our schools, will no longer be left to chance, and will help more of our learners to safely navigate a range of relationships throughout their lives,” Minister Martin says.

“For the last decade, Education Review Office (ERO) reports on this area have shown that some schools teach this subject very well, but that the majority struggle. We have to do better than that for our children.”

Two revised sets of guidelines are being released. One is for students in Years 1 to 8; the other is for students in Years 9 to 13.

“The new resource responds to feedback from the Korero Mātauranga |Education Conversation calling on schools to take more action against bullying, violence and child abuse, for schools to be more inclusive, and for schools to help students recognise the importance of diversity and respect in relationships,” the Minister says.

“They also respond to a recent Education Review Office (ERO) report noting that our curriculum would benefit from more information around sexuality issues such as consent, the use of digital technologies and relationships.”

The revision takes into account the impact of social media, increasing awareness around sexuality and gender diversity, and the availability of more sexually explicit and confronting online content including pornography. Māori and Pacific views of sexuality and the importance of respecting cultural and family dynamics in relationships are strengthened, as is information about relationships and sexuality education for disabled learners.

“I want to thank all of the many community groups, schools, health education organisations and youth groups, along with government departments, whose input has been invaluable in contributing to this revised resource”, the Minister says.

“Teaching about relationships is not new. Indeed, the first sexuality education guide was published in 2002; then revised in 2015. The new resource focuses strongly on consensual, healthy and respectful relationships as being essential to student wellbeing. This learning, along with mental health and drug and alcohol education, safety and violence prevention, and food and nutrition, are all part of the Health and Physical Education component of the New Zealand Curriculum,” Mrs Martin says.

“Recently, I announced $32.8 million for up to 40 new Curriculum Leads to help deliver a high quality Health and Physical Education curriculum. This includes support for new Mental Health Guidelines in schools, currently being developed, as well as this new resource. The first Leads will be in place in regional Ministry of Education offices in Term 2, 2021 to provide on-the-ground assistance to schools and they will also be able to support schools with their community consultation.”

The Ministry of Education will send hard copies of the new resource to schools in Term 4 this year and will be providing online modules for teachers, showing examples of the new resource in practice.

“This resource will help promote student wellbeing by increasing their ability to make well-informed and confident choices about relationships, and will support educators in their teaching practice,” Minister Martin says.

“They are also designed to give clearer guidance to school boards to work with their communities, as they are required to do, on the design and delivery of relationships and sexuality teaching and learning in our schools.”

The new resource is available on the Ministry’s online curriculum platform, here: https://health.tki.org.nz/Teaching-in-HPE/Policy-guidelines/Sexuality-education-a-guide-for-principals-boards-of-trustees-and-teachers.

ENDS

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