Sexuality Education: Guidelines for Principals, Boards of Trustees, and Teachers

tptBy Alison Green, Te Puāwai Tapu

Earlier this year the Ministry of Education undertook a review and rewrite of the policy document Sexuality Education: Guidelines for Principals, Boards of Trustees, and Teachers (Guidelines). A not-for-profit organisation called CORE Education was contracted by the Ministry of Education to review the Guidelines for English-medium schools. The time frame for reviewing the Guidelines was very tight. CORE Education invited Dr Katie Fitzpatrick from the Faculty of Education, University of Auckland, to assist with the review process.

Last updated in 2002, the policy document is important for those of us involved in sexuality education in schools. The Guidelines set out the rationale and the legal requirements for principals and boards of trustees to consult with their school communities about implementing the health curriculum, including sexuality education.

Dr Fitzpatrick consulted with a range of expert groups including principals, boards of trustees, health teachers, and organisations in the health sector involved in sexuality education. To this end, a consultation meeting was organised in Auckland, and a consultation hui was held in Hamilton for Māori involved in sexuality education.

Unfortunately I didn’t attend the consultation meeting in Auckland but colleagues who did reported that it was well-attended and a large body of information was generated. The Hamilton meeting was also well attended. Māori sexual health promoters from Auckland, the Waikato and Gisborne came together to discuss the benefits and challenges of incorporating traditional and contemporary Māori approaches to sexuality into the revised Guidelines. A report of the meeting, including material for the new Guidelines, was sent to Dr Fitzpatrick.

Te Puāwai Tapu appreciated the invitation from Dr Fitzpatrick to contribute to the review and rewrite of the Guidelines. Opportunities to collaborate across the health and education sectors are vitally important where sexuality education is concerned. The collaboration resulted in a major redraft of the Guidelines; hardly surprising given these are more than a decade old. The document, currently in final draft form with the Ministry of Education, will, we hope, influence practice in all mainstream English-medium schools in Aotearoa New Zealand in the very near future.