In 1956, my very proper grandmother, Thora Holland, published a sex education book for New Zealand parents entitled A Tale of Discovery: A Christian Approach to Sex for Children. As the wife of the Bishop of Waikato, she had identified a lack of sex education for young people, which she sought to rectify. Designed to give clarity in a time when the belief was that education encouraged activity rather than aided understanding. Historian Claire Gooder (2010) asserts that the ‘purpose of sex education was largely to provide moral guidance’.
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there,” asserted British novelist L. P. Hartley. Certainly, my grandmother’s references to litters of cocker spaniel puppies and the change from tadpoles to frogs are unlikely to answer the questions and scenarios posed by contemporary young women. Even ERO believes that sexuality education is much more than learning about ‘the birds and the bees’.
Although it amuses me to think about my grandmother’s response to the topic of sex education, fortunately education has moved with the times and a Health and Transition programme now forms an integral part of the Woodford House curriculum.
Last year, Woodford House consulted with the School community through the Hauora Survey to ensure we are teaching a relevant and responsive health programme with the flexibility to address topics relevant to our students. This elicited a ranked list of concerns: Body image and self esteem, Mental Health, including Depression and anxiety, Peer Pressure, Healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise, Sustainable Relationships, Cyber Safety, Avoiding Conflict, Drugs- Substance Abuse and Sex Education.
As part of the Tempus Sessions in Term 2, guest presenters, along with our Health and Physical Education teachers; Annette Watson, Kelly Ives and Annabel Flynn, Careers Advisor Pam Knight, Our Health Centre team, Dr Lee Knight and Nurse Caryn Williams, Deans and the Senior Leadership Team, offered age appropriate education on a variety of topics.
All students worked with John Parsons around cyber safety and positive digital citizenship. Year 9 girls engaged with making and keeping friends, Year 10’s explored addressing peer conflict and an introduction to careers, Years 9 and 10 learned about periods and endometriosis, Year 11 students attended the Alcohol Expo and discussed alcohol and social safety at parties, and Year 12 and 13 students heard from the police on drug education, attended the Careers Expo, attended stress busting and positive psychology and wellbeing workshops and engaged in discussion around affirmative consent and identifying healthy relationships. Year 13 students have also started looking at the world beyond Woodford House with a transition focus on scholarships, testimonials and future planning.
In Term 2, the Attitudes presenter, Liz Alexander, offered age appropriate health information on sex and relationships. Liz is from The Parenting Place which has developed a national schools’ health programme.
Years 12 and 13 students from Woodford House and Iona College also enjoyed a clear and worthwhile transition seminar from Yvonne Godfrey, renowned parenting guru, award-winning author, speaker, media personality and founder/director of MIOMO (‘Making It On My Own’) who outlined ‘things you need to know before you leave school.’
Godfrey also spoke to parents in an evening session and delivered sensible advice on consistency, co-operation, communication and building character.
The Health and Transition programme is wide ranging and aims to equip students with knowledge and understanding as well as a range of tools to support their wellbeing.
A range of useful tips for students are listed below:
- Private social media accounts are never private. Only post what you are happy for your grandmother to see or read. Even if you think it is a joke, consider whether it is rude/ mean/ harmful/ unnecessary. Be prepared to let your parents check your social media. Take some time away from your phone: Look Up!
- When someone says or does something unintentionally hurtful once – that is not nice. When someone says or does something intentionally hurtful once – that is mean. When someone does or says something intentionally hurtful and keeps doing it over a period of time, even when you have told them to stop or shown that you are upset – that is bullying.
- Not saying ‘NO’ is not consent. Affirmative consent means you say ‘YES.’ You can change your mind and that is okay.
- If your friend, or family member, is isolating themselves in a relationship, has changed from the person you knew, is not seeking help when things escalate and/or being physically or verbally manipulated, they need help from you. Talk to a trusted adult for support or contact NEED TO TALK Text: 1737 Phone: 0800 1737 1737
- Consider the health and wellbeing consequences of social choices. Drinking too much alcohol over the weekend can play out later at school during the week. Use a ‘wingman’ to help make good decisions.
- Smoking, alcohol and other drugs are not permitted at Woodford House in any circumstances. Any violation will be treated as a very serious matter and, in the case of drugs, will be handled by either the Board of Proprietors (boarding) or Board of Trustees (day school) as well as the Police.
- Vaping and vaping paraphernalia are banned at school under the school NAG 5 Smoking Policy. Use of vaping material will be considered a breach of trust. It is illegal to sell vaping products to young people under the age of 18.
- ‘You’ve got to be in to win’ with scholarships and transition documentation. Get your personal statements organised and research scholarships for which you are eligible.
Parents and whanau, for resources to support future family discussions around Sexuality, Health and Wellbeing, feel free to access these links:
- Mental Health 101
- Stress busting
- Anxious kids
- Smoking/ vaping
- Social media
- Party behaviour: alcohol
- Affirmative consent
- Safe relationships
- Drug education
- University scholarships available
Mrs Stephanie Russell, Deputy Principal – Student Wellbeing