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Health Educ Res. 2000 Feb;15(1):25-38.

From psycho-social theory to sustainable classroom practice: developing a research-based teacher-delivered sex education programme.

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  • 1School of Social Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK.


This paper describes the development of a theoretically based sex education programme currently undergoing a randomized controlled trial in the UK. It considers some of the practical difficulties involved in translating research-based conclusions into acceptable, replicable and potentially effective classroom lessons. The discussion acknowledges that the implications of social psychological research and the requirements of rigorous evaluation may conflict with accepted principles inherent in current sex education practice. It also emphasizes that theoretical ideas must be carefully embedded in lessons which are informed by an awareness of classroom culture, and the needs and skills of teachers. For example, the use of same-sex student groups to reflect on the gendered construction of sexuality may be problematic. Materials must be tailored to recipients' circumstances, which may require substituting for limited experience with the use of detailed scripts and scenarios. Furthermore, role-play techniques for sexual negotiation that work elsewhere may not be effective in the UK. The use of trigger video sessions and other techniques are recommended. Finally, the problems involved in promoting condom-related skills are discussed. The paper concludes that, if an intervention is to be sustainable beyond the research stage, it must be designed to overcome such problems while remaining theoretically informed.

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