Below is an extract from the recent policy report by University of Bristol (July 2017). A series of quantative and qualitative research projects and a systematic review of effectiveness of school-based programmes resulted in this report.

  • Bearing in mind age-appropriateness, SRE should be sex-positive, i.e. it should be open, frank, informative and should acknowledge the pleasures of sex. It should reflect that some young people are sexually active and acknowledge young people’s autonomy and level of maturity. It should not focus on abstinence.
  • SRE should reflect sexual diversity. It should discuss a range of sexual activity (not just heterosexual intercourse), as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues and relationships.
  • SRE should include teaching on consent, sexting, cyberbullying, online safety, sexual exploitation and sexual coercion
  • SRE should challenge, rather than reinforce, gender stereotypes and inequalities.
  • SRE should be culturally sensitive.
  • SRE should be integrated into a ‘whole school’ ethos and should teach life skills (e.g. planning, decision making skills), specific skills (e.g. communication, sexual negotiation skills) and promote resilience.
  • SRE should provide impartial information on contraception, safer sex, pregnancy and abortion.
  • SRE should discuss relationships and emotions.
  • Where appropriate, potentially risky practices should be considered in combination, e.g. considering the risks of sexual activity alongside substance use
  • Lessons on the risks of sexual activity need to be developed carefully; an overemphasis on risk can alienate some young people, particularly if the risks are emphasised at the expense of the positive and pleasurable aspects of sex.
  • SRE programmes should be developed with input from young people.

*Sex positive: an approach that is open, frank and positive about sex, that challenges negative societal attitudes to sex and embraces sexual diversity at the same time as emphasising the importance of consent and comprehensive sex and relationship education