This project builds on previous research funded by SPHR and aims to provide an understanding of how researchers could work with multi-academy school chains and groups of free schools to implement health interventions.
February 2018 - January 2019
October 2013 - September 2018
Sex and relationship education (SRE) is seen as vital for improving young people’s sexual health but a third of schools in England lack good quality SRE and provision is patchy. Researchers at SPHR aimed to identify what makes SRE programmes effective, acceptable, sustainable and capable of being faithfully implemented.
Researchers conducted and brought together the findings from five separate but linked research projects:
The research team presented their findings to three groups of young people and one group of SRE experts for their feedback.
Researchers found that school-based SRE and school-linked sexual health services can be an effective way to improve sexual health. Professional believe good programmes start in primary school. Professionals and young people agreed that good programmes are age-appropriate, interactive and take place in a safe environment. Some young women reported preferring single-sex classes but young men appeared to want mixed classes. Young people and professionals agreed that SRE should teach ‘life skills’ and not focus on abstinence. Young people advocated an approach that was positive about sex but reported this was lacking. Young people and professionals agreed that SRE should discuss risks, but young people felt such discussions should avoid being too negative. Professionals felt teachers should be involved in SRE delivery but many young people reported discomfort at having their teachers deliver SRE.
Researchers considered the evidence and identified key features of effective and acceptable SRE, leading to the development of criteria for best practice in SRE. This criteria provides clear guidance for practitioners to use when developing new programmes and for policy makers to draw upon in forthcoming consultations about statutory SRE. Our in-depth study illustrates that it is possible to deliver excellent SRE and demonstrates how this works in practice.
SPHR final report: Risky sexual behaviour and alcohol use
Pound P, Denford S, Shucksmith J, Owen J, Hutten R, Mohan L, Johnson A, Bonell C, Abraham C, Campbell R. What is best practice in sex and relationships education? A synthesis of evidence, including stakeholders’ views. BMJ Open May 2017.
Pound P, Langford R, Campbell R. What do young people think about their school-based sex and relationship education? A qualitative synthesis of young people’s views and experiences. BMJ open 2016;6(9):e011329.
Denford S, Abraham C, Campbell R, et al. A comprehensive review of reviews of school-based interventions to improve sexual-health. Health Psychology Review 2016;1-20.
Tanton C, Jones KG, Macdowall W, et al. Patterns and trends in sources of information about sex among young people in Britain: evidence from three National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. BMJ open 2015;5(3):e007834.
Macdowall W, Jones KG, Tanton C, et al. Associations between source of information about sex and sexual health outcomes in Britain: findings from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3). BMJ open 2015;5(3):e007837.
Geary, RS, Tomes, C, Jones, KG, et al. Actual and preferred contraceptive sources among young people: findings from the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. BMJ Open, 2016;6(9): e011966
SPHR Public Health Evidence Briefing: Risky sexual behaviour and alcohol