Sex education
Sex education

Teachers abstain from sex education

TEACHERS are ditching sex education lessons in massive numbers and outsourcing it to professional outfits because they find it awkward, the largest provider of the sex education in NSW has revealed.

Experts support the shift to bringing in professional help to teach the mandatory sex education curriculum because teachers are not equipped to deal with the ever changing minefield of porn, sexting and consent.

Interrelate CEO Patricia Occelli told the Saturday Telegraph the number of students and parents attending sex education talks in schools jumped from 40,800 students and parents in 2015 to 80,057 in the past year.

She said the leap in the students doing sex programs, which satisfy the NSW physical education curriculum requirements, was due to teachers finding sex education "sensitive and difficult" to talk about and more schools becoming aware of their services.

"Our own experience in delivering relationship education for more than 90 years has shown that teachers often find it helpful to have providers with specific expertise in this area deliver information that is sensitive and difficult to talk about," Ms Occelli said.

Schools either pay for staff to come and speak to students during class time or facilitate parent and child programs like "Where Did I Come From?" and "Preparing For Puberty" at a cost of $37 for two sessions.


Graeme O'Connor with his children Sophie, 6, William, 9, and Jack, 12,
Graeme O'Connor with his children Sophie, 6, William, 9, and Jack, 12,


NSW Parents Council President Rose Cantali said outsourcing was beneficial because even though it was in the curriculum, how it was delivered was dependent on the teacher.

"I think there has been a lot of pressure on our teachers to deliver a lot of stuff that they're not experienced in doing," she said.

"I think the teachers would feel awkward, especially for male teachers delivering it to female students, you have all those sexual connotations and how people can misread (what is said)."

Father of three Graeme O'Connor supported outsourcing it because primary school teachers would find it embarrassing to start having conversations with children they see every day about porn puberty.

"Teachers do a great job, but it helps the teachers too because it is an awkward conversation to have with kids, particularly in primary school that they're with all the time," he said.

Former Dolly Doctor and now UTS Associate Prof Melissa Kang said school teachers did a good job on the basics, but said tricky conversations around online porn could be better facilitated by a professional.

"It is hard to talk about that in the classrooms sometimes, particularly if you have (children) at different stages of their own development, you are going to make some feel quite uncomfortable," she said.

An Education Department spokesman said Personal Development, Health and Physical Education was mandatory from Kindergarten to Year 10 and teachers were given material to support them teaching it.

"Schools may engage external providers to enhance teaching and learning programs that address curriculum requirements in government schools and provide extra curriculum opportunities for students," he said.