Staffroom Tales: Birds, bees, bunnies and cartoon couples

Recent tabloid headlines along the lines of "Condoms To Be Handed Out To 5 Year Olds!" must mean there has been some change in the government's sex education policy for schools. Reading the details a bit more closely, it becomes clear that the government is proposing such radical ideas as teaching 5-year-olds about relationships (I guess some of those children must have been wondering who the two adults were in their house who gave them with food and took them to school).

Don't panic, though, because "faith groups" will apparently be allowed "to produce supplementary guidance ...then deliver that programme of study in a way that's sympathetic to their moral beliefs". That's going to take some skilful differentiation techniques on the part of the teacher ("So, Year 6, to sum up, sex in a loving relationship is a natural expression of love. Except for you three children at the front: if you do it, you're going to hell!").

The government has obviously realised the need for urgent action, now that most secondary schools find themselves having to provide baby-changing facilities during their sex-education classes. I'm sure at the end of a lot of fuss the actual curriculum will be so wishy-washy that most of Britain's 11-year-olds will continue to get their sex education where they got it before: Eastenders and hip-hop videos. This means they expect their first sexual experience to be followed either by HIV and a fatal road accident or a ride in a diamond-studded helicopter while being showered in champagne.

At one of my former schools, a brave head teacher decided to take a stand and introduce some sex education from age nine. I had to pre-screen the video for parents one evening after school. After the laughter had subsided following my offer to lend the video to any fathers who had been unable to make it to the screening ("No thanks, Mr Walpole, my husband has his own supply of videos in his sock drawer"), we, ahem, got down to business.

Around 40 per cent of the video featured couples walking in the park and pointing at things. Being a modern video, there were two men seen walking together but it chickened out on the hand-holding so most children were probably left with the impression that they were professional tree pointers on a job. Twenty per cent of the video was slow motion shots of flowers growing and baby bunnies frolicking, while 35 per cent was taken up with an unlikely tokenistic family barbecue featuring every ethnic, marital and sexual combination eating burgers, while a voice over broodingly reported, "when adults are in love, they do a special thing to express their feelings". The final five per cent of the video consisted of nude cartoon people jumping on top of each other while hearts burst over their heads like fireworks.

Nearly all the parents were positive about the planned lessons but unfortunately a minority of two wrote angry letters to me, the head teacher, the governors, the local MP and, for, all I know, the Queen. I can still remember the slightly disturbing phrase, "in the video, a cartoon woman gets on top of a cartoon man. I do not want my children to know that there are any sexual positions other than the normal one."

The classes went ahead with those particular pupils withdrawn by their parents, which just meant they received a slightly warped account of the lessons from their friends in the playground ("Then Mr. Walpole had sex with the teaching assistant on his desk. There were exploding hearts everywhere!"). Ah well, I think they learned something.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Learning Support Assistant

£65 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Due to the continual growth and...

Part Time SEN Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking for a Part Time S...

KS1 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

Opportunities for SEN Teachers and Support Staff

£50 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking for a new a...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz