Pupils' sex lesson upsets parents

DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 05:00 01/03/2014

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Explicit sex education at a West Coast primary school has sparked a flurry of complaints from shocked parents with one family pulling their children out in protest.

Blaketown School trustee Jo-Anne Sim resigned from the board on February 9 in disgust over how the school had handled parents' concerns about a female teacher's actions when assisting the delivery of a sexual education programme last November.

Sim said the teacher taught the class of Year 7 and 8 children, aged 11, 12 and 13, about some graphic sex topics, going far beyond what parents had given consent for.

On the first day of the 3-day programme, she taught the pupils about body parts, pointing out pleasure points on women and men.

The following day, she answered questions that students had put in a "question box", including about anal and oral sex, "hand jobs", sexually transmitted diseases and flavoured condoms.

"She felt she had to answer the questions but she shouldn't have. It was too much information," Sim said.

Four parents lodged written complaints, including Sim, but seven others complained verbally, she said.

"This isn't just one parent complaining. This is 11 families out of 16 students in the class."

The school cancelled the programme's final day after receiving the complaints.

Sim, a mother of two, said she resigned from the board because she felt the school's investigation was one-sided and failed to ask students what had happened.

She believed the teacher needed to apologise and to give an assurance it would never happen again.

"I felt there was no accountability and no consequences.

"I do feel it was never taken seriously." The teacher was still working at the school.

Board of trustees chairwoman Robyn Larking told The Press the school informed parents in its newsletter several times that it was running its sexual education programme before it went ahead.

"It's part of the Ministry of Education requirements that we run a sexuality education programme every two years."

She said one of the school's teachers assisted other health professionals with delivering the set programme.

The programme was supposed to run over several days but the final day was cancelled after a complaint was laid and an investigation launched.

The school sought advice from the New Zealand School Trustees Association and the ministry about how to handle the issue.

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- The Press

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