22nd November, 2017

Primary school children need high-quality relationships and sex education, say winners of FPA’s sex ed ‘Oscars’

The sexual health charity FPA has announced the winner of the prestigious 2017 Pamela Sheridan Award for innovation and good practice in relationships and sex education.

BigTalk Education’s Growing Up Safe Programme has been awarded the top prize in what’s been called the ‘Oscars’ of relationships and sex education. BigTalk’s whole school programme of relationships and sex education (RSE) is delivered to primary school children aged from 4-11 in collaboration with teachers and parents.

Ahead of relationships education for primary schools in England being made statutory in 2019, the award emphasises how important it is that the government doesn’t leave children without the vital information they need when official guidance for the subject is announced.

Natika Halil, Chief Executive of the sexual health charity FPA, which has presented the highly-sought after annual award for more than 20 years, in memory of sex education innovator Pamela Sheridan, said:

“It’s so important that when the government writes their guidance for relationships education in primary schools, they don’t forget to include the important information that children need to know about their bodies. Research by the Sex Education Forum found that a quarter of girls start their periods before they’ve been taught what they are, which simply isn’t good enough. Young people are being left in the dark, when there’s no reason or justification for this to happen.

“The success of BigTalk Education, and other resources for primary schools such as FPA’s Growing Up with Yasmine and Tom, shows that children can be taught vital information such as naming body parts and being prepared for puberty, in a way that’s appropriate for their age. This doesn’t just lay strong foundations for more complex issues to be introduced later, but is also essential for keeping young people safe, especially for more vulnerable young people or young people with a disability.”

Lynnette Smith, Founder and Lead of BigTalk Education said:

“Adults tend to think about sex in an adult way, but relationships and sex education (RSE) for primary school is done in an age-appropriate way, and this needs to be reflected in the government’s guidance. BigTalk Education now delivers education in 133 schools across the country, and our Growing Up Safe Programme for primary schools delivers age-appropriate RSE to children from the age of four, with the backing of parents and school staff.

“We’re thrilled to receive the Pamela Sheridan Award, which for us is the Oscars of sex education! It highlights the fact that high quality RSE can become a normal part of growing up and help to keep children safe, healthy and happy”

Lynette from BigTalk Education
[Above: Lynnette Smith receives the Pamela Sheridan Award 2017]

The judging panel for the Pamela Sheridan Award commented that:

“BigTalk Education demonstrates that it is possible to start the conversation about sex and relationships with children right at the beginning of primary school. Crucially the project models a building blocks approach to teaching which is age-appropriate and builds year on year, on strong foundations of accurate information; with a focus on knowing how to get help to stay safe.

“The BigTalk programme shows that having the ‘big talk’ does not have to be a ‘big deal’.”

Highly commended - Sex and History

Also Highly Commended for the Pamela Sheridan Award was Sex & History, by the University of Exeter, about which the judging panel commented:

"A special commendation for the ground-breaking Sex and History project for a unique and highly creative approach to relationships and sex education.

"Sex and History uses historical artefacts to stimulate discussions about sex and relationships. Looking at images of a range of objects allows young people to engage in a completely different way – like one participant who observed ‘“Because it wasn't anything to do with nowadays… because it was nothing to do with me, it was easy to talk about.”

"The judges all agreed that Sex and History is original and imaginative, and that the free-resources for teachers support good practice by providing an excellent guide through the conversations they will generate, to achieve clear RSE outcomes.

"In short, we all agreed we’d like to participate in a Sex and History lesson – they sound great."

The Sex and History team
[Above: Some of the Sex and History team, highly commended for the Pamela Sheridan Award 2017]

Rosemary Goodchild Award for excellence in sexual health journalism

The winner of the Rosemary Goodchild Award for sexual health journalism was Elle Magazine's Olivia Blair, for her article Actually, sex education does not cause more teenage girls to get pregnant, and Metro's Rebecca Reid was given a Highly Commended award for her article There's no such thing as a 'good' abortion.

Judges commended all the finalists for each award for their contribution to relationships and sex education, and sexual health journalism.

Rosemary Goodchild Award winner 2017, Olivia Blair
[Above, L-R: Marc Goodchid, Natika H Halil, Olivia Blair, Trevor Goodchild]


Rosemary goodchild Award Highly Commended Rebecca Reid
[Above, L-R: Marc Goodchid, Natika H Halil, Rebecca Reid, Trevor Goodchild]


Sexual Health Awards