The new sexuality education guidelines released last week are directly linked to the New Zealand Curriculum.
Sexuality education is part of Health and Physical Education in The New Zealand Curriculum (2007). Sexuality education starts at Level 1 of The New Zealand Curriculum. This is the first time the guidelines have been revised since 2002.
The guidelines detail how sex education and sexuality education are different. The New Zealand Curriculum supports a holistic approach to sexuality education as defined by the hauora model, which includes physical, social, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects. This is much broader than sex education, which relates only to the physical aspects of sexual and reproductive knowledge.
This connection with the curriculum is applauded by Family Planning, which says the guidelines provide much needed support to school boards, principals, and teachers to deliver effective, quality sexuality education.
Family Planning chief executive Jackie Edmond describes the new guidelines as comprehensive and sensible and rooted in the issues facing young people today such as pornography, sexual bullying and bullying via social media.
She says the guidelines bring together the overwhelming evidence that supports sexuality education in schools, and across all year groups. They also give certainty and reassurance to schools as they implement and expand these programmes.
“We have advocated for a long time for sexuality education programmes that take a broad and holistic view of health, which are positive and supportive, because these are most effective for young people.
“And, outcomes for young people are better when these programmes are supported by and linked to health services and access to resources,” Ms Edmond says.
“We are also pleased with the inclusive nature of these guidelines – which use not only the te whare tapa whā model of Māori health and wellbeing but also Pasifika models such as fonofale. Equity and sexual and gender diversity are also welcomed inclusions.
“We know that quality comprehensive sexuality education supports young people to make good decisions, to delay sexual activity and to use contraception when they do become sexually active.”