Primary Consultation Activity

A teacher's experience of consulting primary pupils about SRE

Year 2 teacher, Melonie Syrett, who is also the school lead for PSHE tried out some of the Sex Education Forum 'Let's Get it Right' activities with pupils at Goose Green Primary School. Melonie joined the school in 2011, and explains that although sex education was in place there was scope to raise standards. The current Head teacher also recalls that SRE was not being taught when she first arrived at the school. The governors thought very hard about their decision to introduce SRE. 

Melonie started monitoring the teaching to see what exactly was being taught and has supported staff through a number of INSET training sessions. Melonie says:

"I really enjoyed running the sessions using the 'Let's Get it Right' activities as they gave me an invaluable insight into what pupils think is important and the differences between year groups. I have been able to gauge children's' views on everything from teaching style to content. I would like to repeat the activities next year and hopefully I'll have different results that show we have improved"

Pupils ideas that emerged from running the activities are summarized below.

Year 2 - Taking stock activity

Melonie used the picture card 'taking stock' activity with her Year 2 class. Pupils are asked to look at four cards, discuss them and put them in order of importance. The class came up with this order for what is important for them to learn about:

1 - my family and other families

2 - how to be a good friend

3 - girls bodies and boys bodies

4 - where babies come from

They added that they thought it would be good to learn 'what is a family', 'how to play together and share' and 'how to look after yourself'.


Year 4 - Taking stock activity

Melonie used a list of topics on cards and pupils were asked to organize them in order of importance. The class ordered them like this:

1-what to do about bullying.

2-what makes girls and boys different.

3-friendships and how they change

4-how our bodies change when we are growing up

After the top four they thought these were next most important: 'how I feel about growing up', 'what makes me feel good or bad' and 'keeping secrets'. Least important to them was: 'how different animals make babies' and 'eggs and sperm and making babies'.

Discussions with Year 4 also revealed that their past experiences of SRE had been boring and went on for hours and hours. It was all about birth. They felt scared and it was all from their parents or from TV such as 'One born every minute' and the news. They were scared because people died and no-one explained why, and they couldn't ask questions.

The Year 4 pupils recommended that SRE would be better if.. 'teachers could help us understand more, show us diagrams, explain in more detail, say it in a better emotion, use films, tell us about it more and listened to us more'.

Year 6 - Taking stock activity

Pupils discussed topics printed on cards and organized them into rows as a diamond. The top three topics they chose were

1 - HIV and AIDS

2 - more about puberty and what are normal body changes

3 - looking after my body as I go through puberty


Year 6 - who teaches us

The older pupils did an activity about who teaches them SRE and what has been helpful or unhelpful.

This probed more about the style of teaching and resources used.

They identified the following as helpful: using videos, being clear, gaining parental permission, having a balance of information, chunking pieces rather than going on and on, fits maturity - not too young approach or old approach, more information rather than a wishy washy account, making us feel comfortable

Unhelpful was: being too brief or too much, using big words and being confusing, just talking at us, not answering questions.

Year 6 - values

An interactive 'values' activity created a very rich dialogue with the Year 6 pupils. For example in response to the statement 'It is OK to ask questions about sex and relationships'  most agreed with the statement, a few were not sure, and one pupil said 'it's ok to ask you but I have to think about who I can ask'.


Year 6 - twitter tin

Having completed a number of activities to explore what should be taught in SRE and how, the Year 6 pupils focused on writing a 'tweet' to sum up their thoughts about SRE. The Sex Education Forum will broadcast these tweets on behalf of the pupils from the @sex_ed_forum account on 18 April 2013. The tweets are recorded below. 


 'The most important thing for me and my friends is that we should talk about it when we grow older. Tell teenagers as they are older.'


'Well the most important thing is that you shopuld explain what sex is and also what can come from sex and how to prevent sex.'


'We think it is important to learn about sex education like learning about your body because incase of a relationship.'


'The most important thing about sex and relationships is to know your limits and dont rush things by being a person like a teenage mum.'


'If you want to tell someone young about sex and relationships teach them about friendship first.'


'Knowing how to look after your body as it changes. Learning that changes are normal to you. I'd like to know how to be smart in relationships.'


'I think sex and relationships could be helpful because we need to know about sex so we can be prepared when we are older.'


'Sex is not a thing to play with its a thing that only adults can express themselves with. DO not allow teenagers to try sex.' 


'As you get older you develop new things so its better to behave in a serious way. In a relationship you need to act in a serious way.'


'What I think (about) is AIDS and HIV and having protected sex because if you have a baby and you have HIV it might catch the disease.'


'I would like to tell the headteacher why sex education is important. So they can give us advise for the future.'


'I think that teachers should do more lessons about sexually transmitted diseases re: AIDS.'


'Knowing how to have sex safely without getting HIV. Make sure you can use condoms properly.'




  Primary Toolkit

Let's get it right: A toolkit for involving primary school children in reviewing their sex and relationships education  (2013) Lucy Emmerson and Jane Lees