NET - Promoting wellbeing through sexuality education - Information for parents and guardians

This is information about the 'Promoting wellbeing through sexuality education' NET for parents and guardians

We want to know

How your child’s school supports and promotes wellbeing for students through useful sexuality education.


This will be part of the school’s education review scheduled between Monday 15 May (Week 3, Term 2), and Friday 4 August (Week 2, Term 3).

What is sexuality education?

Sexuality education is one of seven key areas of learning in Health and Physical Education in The New Zealand Curriculum. It is an important way of supporting young people’s wellbeing and improving their resilience.  Wellbeing is important for students’ success. For example, a student’s sense of achievement and success is enhanced by a sense of feeling safe and secure at school.

‘The New Zealand Curriculum supports a holistic approach to sexuality education, 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. Sexuality education starts at Level 1 of The New Zealand Curriculum and takes both an inclusive and a developmentally appropriate approach.

In sexuality education, young people learn about themselves and develop knowledge and skills that will help them interact in positive, respectful and supportive ways with others. Through learning about sexuality and sexual health, students also come to understand about the social and cultural influences that shape the way that society views gender and sexuality’ (MOE, 2015).

Why are we evaluating this?

ERO last reported on schools’ provision for sexuality education in 2007. That evaluation found that the majority of schools with Year 7‑13 students were not meeting students’ learning needs effectively. Meeting the needs of diverse groups of students was an area of particular weakness.

In 2015, the Ministry of Education released an updated guide for schools to support their delivery of sexuality education. ERO is interested in how schools are using the guide to review and plan sexuality education.

ERO consulted with a wide variety of agencies and academics with an interest in the area of young people’s sexuality education.

Our questions are

  • How does the board of trustees meet their responsibilities in relation to sexuality education?
  • How do leaders ensure the school environment and curriculum reflect the ideals of their community, and their stated vision for students?
  • How does the school consult and communicate with parents, whānau and the wider community to provide opportunities for sexuality education that meet the community’s and students’ priorities and needs?
  • How does the school implement the sexuality education aspect of the curriculum to promote positive attitudes to sexuality and identity?
  • How are teachers supported to confidently and capably implement sexuality education in their classes?
  • How does the school learn about their students’ needs in relation to sexuality education, prioritise those needs, and consider their progress towards meeting them?

What should my child be learning in sexuality education?


Sexuality education content

Junior primary (years 1‑3)

Students will learn about:

  • growth
  • development
  • the human body
  • friendships
  • family relationships

Students will:

  • take action to support the well-being of others
  • learn friendship skills
  • learn about basic human rights in relation to relationships and identity
  • learn to express feelings and how they contribute to positive and inclusive environments.

Middle and upper primary (years 4‑6)

Students will learn about:

  • pubertal change
  • body growth and development (maybe including human reproduction)
  • how to support themselves and others during change and develop a positive body image

Students will:

  • describe how social messages and stereotypes about relationships, sexuality, and gender affect well-being
  • actively affirm the rights of themselves and others
  • reflect on friendships and plan strategies for positive and supportive relationships
  • identify risks and issues in online and social media environments and question messages related to gender, sexuality, and diversity
  • identify how to access health care.

Intermediate (years 7‑8)

Students will learn about:

  • how to support themselves and others during pubertal change and develop a positive body image
  • intimate relationships and sexual attraction
  • respect and communication skills
  • processes of conception and child birth

Students will:

  • identify health care resources in the community
  • critically explore how gender and sexuality messages affect well-being
  • plan strategies to support inclusion, diversity, and respect in friendships and relationships (including in online environments)
  • analyse how sexuality is represented in social media and mass media, and critique dominant messages
  • develop assertiveness skills and recognise instances of bullying and discrimination
  • question and discuss gender norms.

Junior secondary (years 9‑10)

Students will learn about:

  • intimate relationships and explore positive sexual health
  • managing their own sexual health and how to access health care
  • long-term and short-term effects of sexual decisions 
  • conception, contraception, sexually transmissible infections, and other aspects of sexual decision-making
  • sexual diversity and gender identity
  • the physical and emotional effects of sexual identity, sexual attraction, and sexual maturation

Students will:

  • critique dominant cultural messages about sexual behaviour (including those in mass and online media)
  • identify skills for positive and supportive intimate relationships
  • discuss human rights, consent, and the importance of choice and agency in relationships
  • explore online and social media environments plan strategies for positive and supportive engagement
  • plan strategies for seeking help and support will be planned.

Senior secondary (years 11‑13)

Students will:

  • critically analyse a wide range of issues relating to gender, sexuality, and sexual health
  • explore pressure, social norms, gender identity, and cultural issues relating to sexual health
  • evaluate community agencies, the politics of sexuality and sexual health, and recognise positive and supportive intimate relationships
  • critically analyse issues of safety and risk, and research positive sexual health practices
  • identify future sexual health needs and critique cultural norms.
  • work across the school to affirm diversity, human rights, and positive sexuality, as well as to advocate for access to support and health care.


It is recommended that all students engage in sexuality education in years 11–13. This should not be limited to students completing courses and standards in health education under the NCEA.

From: Sexuality Education: a guide for principals, boards of trustees, and teachers (MOE, 2015)


ERO would like to speak with some students in Years 7 or above about their experiences of sexuality education. ERO will only speak to students in small groups.

If the school has a student support or advocacy group (such as a Queer/Straight Alliance or feminist group), ERO may also speak to students who are members of this group.

Students will also be invited to share any thoughts or comments about their sexuality education anonymously, through an online comment option. Please talk to your child if you do not wish them to use the anonymous online option.

Talking to students

Your school should notify parents/guardians of students in Year 7 or above that your child may be included in a group that talks with ERO about their experiences of sexuality education at school. This is common ERO practice and ERO evaluators are experienced with talking to students.

All conversations will be kept to appropriate topics according to the guidance from the Ministry of Education (2015), in the table above, and be held in small groups.

If you are uncomfortable with ERO talking to your child about their experiences of sexuality education at school, please let the school know.

What we will do with the information we collect

The overall findings from reviews of schools in Term 2 and early Term 3, 2017 will be aggregated for a national report on schools’ implementation of sexuality education to support the wellbeing of their students.

If we want to use any specific examples from the school in the report, we will check the details with the school first. We will not identify any schools or individuals in our report.


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