Teaching Sex Education in PDHPE: Strategies and Resources for Effective Learning

pdhpe sex education stage 4 stage 5 May 14, 2023

Sex education is an important part of Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE). It is a critical area of learning that enables students to develop the knowledge and skills they need to make informed decisions about their sexual health and relationships.

The PDHPE syllabus requires sex education to cover a range of topics, including sexual anatomy, reproductive health, contraception, and STIs. It should also address issues such as consent, healthy relationships, and sexual identity. The key concepts and skills that should be covered in sex education vary depending on the age and maturity level of the students. However, all sex education should aim to promote healthy sexual behaviours and relationships, reduce the risk of STIs, and empower students to make informed decisions about their sexual health.

Effective sex education requires creating a safe and inclusive learning environment, using appropriate teaching methods and resources, and partnering with parents and guardians to enable them to assist and follow up with students at home.

Creating a Safe and Inclusive Learning Environment

Creating a safe and inclusive learning environment is critical when teaching sex education. This involves establishing ground rules for respectful communication, creating an environment that is free from judgment and stigma, and addressing any sensitive or controversial topics in a non-judgmental manner. Teachers should also be aware of the diversity of students in the classroom and tailor their teaching methods and resources accordingly. 

Personally, I like to revisit the ground rules I have created already with my students and discuss how they might need to be adapted and applied as we discuss sex as a class. It can also be empowering for the students to come up with appropriate consequences for those who break the agreed-upon rules for respectful relationships and communication in the classroom and around the school.

Teaching Methods and Resources

Effective teaching methods for sex education in PDHPE can include group discussions, role-playing activities, and multimedia resources such as videos and online resources. Ensure you use age-appropriate resources that are relevant and engaging to your students. Allowing students to do research and explore this topic is important, but it is crucial that guidance is provided to ensure safe and appropriate resources are found. I highly recommend you create a short list of websites the students could explore and then make sure you talk to your IT department to make sure your students can access them and that other sites do not come up.

One specific activity I find breaks down barriers quickly and opens up discussion is to start the unit by doing a massive mind map on the board of everything and anything the students already know about or have heard about in relation to sexual health. This can give you some good information to inform future lessons, helps students to know that this is an open and safe space for communication, and provides an opportunity for students to begin to learn from each other.

Another key teaching strategy during sexual health is the ability for students to ask anonymous questions. This can be done in a number of ways including a box at the front of the room each lesson, or students handing you their questions as they leave. You could also use a Google form or something similar to collect the questions so that students don't have to submit them physically and can submit them at any time of the day. The important thing is that the questions asked are anonymous and get answered regularly. It can be a good start and end to every lesson, or form the foundation for a full lesson. 

My final tip for teaching strategies is to use lots of case studies, especially when navigating sexual relationships. You can even ask the students to create these and then go through them across the unit. This will help to make sure the case studies are relevant to your students. Just make sure you never use the name of one of your students, or even someone in their grade, as it can cause embarrassment for that person or their partner.

If you have other tips and strategies you like to use, leave them in the comments section below so others can benefit as well.

Partnering with Parents and Guardians

Parents and guardians play a critical role in sex education. You should communicate with parents and guardians about the topics being covered in your unit, when they are going to be covered and provide possible suggestions for how they could further support their child throughout the term. When you communicate with them make sure you address any concerns they may have and even provide a way for them to raise those concerns with you. Below is an example letter you could send home to parents.

Dear Parents/Guardians,

I am writing to inform you that your child will be learning about sexual health as part of our PDHPE program this term. We believe that it is important for students to have access to accurate information and skills to help them make informed decisions about their health and relationships.

Our sexual health program will cover topics such as sexual anatomy, healthy relationships, contraception, and STIs. We will be using evidence-based resources and teaching methods to ensure that the content is age-appropriate and relevant to your child's needs.

We understand that some parents may have concerns about their child learning about sexual health. We want to assure you that we will be approaching these topics in a sensitive and respectful manner. We also encourage you to have open and honest conversations with your child about sexual health, and to seek support or advice from the school if needed.

We value your input and encourage you to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about the sexual health program. We also invite you to attend our parent information session, where we will provide more information about the program and answer any questions you may have.

Thank you for your support in helping us to provide your child with the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy and informed decisions.


[Your Name] PDHPE Teacher

Finally, try and provide them with resources to support them and their child's learning. This could include providing information about local sexual health services, discussing strategies for promoting healthy sexual behaviours and relationships, and encouraging open communication between parents and their children about sex education. I find that even just letting them know what day their child has the lessons with the topics can be helpful. Then all the parent needs to do is ask their child what they learnt in PDHPE today.

You could also hold a parent open night or online event where parents can raise their concerns which can be addressed by you, your head teacher and possibly also the director of curriculum or Principal.

Effective sex education requires creating a safe and inclusive learning environment, using appropriate teaching methods and resources, and partnering with parents and guardians to ensure that the curriculum is age-appropriate and relevant. By promoting healthy sexual behaviours and relationships, reducing the risk of unintended pregnancies and STIs, and empowering students to make informed decisions about their sexual health, we can make a significant impact on the lives of our students.

Resources you could check out

Please note I do not promote any of these programs as being amazing. They are just websites I have found that relate to the curriculum. It is up to you to check them and make sure they are appropriate for your students.

  1. Planned Parenthood - https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens 
  2. Scarleteen - https://www.scarleteen.com/ 
  3. NSW Health - https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/sexualhealth/pages/default.aspx 
  4. Sexuality and Sexual Health Education - https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/curriculum/pdhpe/sexuality-and-sexual-health-education 
  5. Sexual Health Victoria - https://shvic.org.au/for-you 
  6. Love Bites Program - https://www.napcan.org.au/Programs/love-bites/ 
  7. Sexuality and sexual health education in NSW government schools - https://education.nsw.gov.au/content/dam/main-education/teaching-and-learning/curriculum/key-learning-areas/pdhpe/media/documents/pdhpe-k-12-sexuality-health-education-nsw-schools.pdf 


Leave a comment and let us know your strategies and/or resources so others can also benefit.

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