SHOW & TELL
Near-peer sex education
Because this organisation is the brainchild of a near-peer, it’s uniquely positioned to research young people’s sex-ed concerns, broadcast their voices and give teachers insider insight on how best to reach students
Teaching “The Talk” was set up by Suzi Boulting – herself a young person – to start a meaningful dialogue between young people and those in control of sex education in order to ensure that young people’s voices are heard. Teaching the teachers, it’s clearly in a class by itself…
How does it work?
Teaching “The Talk” runs sessions with teachers to highlight and address the wants and needs of young people in their relationships and sex education (RSE). This comes in the form of four workshops on consent, gender, sexuality and porn.
Founder Suzi Boulting runs focus groups with young people in schools and youth clubs. The purpose: to find out exactly what young people want to learn or wish they’d known sooner.
The feedback from focus groups is then applied to discussion-based workshops with teachers. The idea is to have sex education for young people directly influenced by their own voices and concerns.
Teaching “The Talk” purposefully elevates the voices of young people who might not usually be heard, such as those from the trans and non-binary communities. The feedback from focus groups can help teachers to really understand teaching inclusivity without problematic guesswork.
Using young people’s specific requests, Teaching “The Talk” and teachers work to turn them into practical solutions. They look at how the conversations should happen and at what should happen outside of the classroom. Boulting empowers teachers to take the strengths from their everyday teaching role and apply them to sex education, so they look at tone of voice, body language and preferred teaching methods.
What’s also important is helping teachers to identify particular fears that come up over and over again when teaching RSE, and offering solutions to common roadblocks.
Teaching “The Talk” helps teachers to see young people as stakeholders in the conversation by presenting their own research.
But it can be challenging getting older people to take young people’s ideas seriously. The usual power dynamic is that young people are supposed to listen to teachers…
Why does it work?
This is a fresh idea – and a unique way of linking young people directly to the training of their teachers.
Boulting holds regular consultations with young people to ensure that she’s keeping up with trends in teaching and with what is at the forefront of young people’s minds. Being a young woman herself, she is able to relate and to get feedback from young people in a way that a teacher might not be able to.
It works because she has the inside track!
Report by Katie Lee