Relationships and Sex Education



‘Drama’ as a term can conjure up all sorts of associations. For some it is the most obvious and exciting way to learn about relationships, but for many it is at best misleading and at worst completely off-putting.   I take my meaning from the original Greek word dran  ‘do, act’. Drama, in the context of relationships and sex education, is about the doing – it is something that should be active, co-constructed and ‘done’.

Tip 1 Keep your classroom safe, build consensus

Identify a set of ground rules which are designed to keep the classroom a safe space for the facilitator and learners. In exercising these rules, it is important to acknowledge the value of a degree of risk taking whilst engendering a consensual ethos. You might want to make the rules explicit from the outset of your RSE sessions, but there is value in finding ways of co-constructing them, building class consensus and self-regulation. A case-study or simple story built up with the class can be excellent for creating insight into the importance and relevance of using ground rules.


Tip 2 Embrace the ‘doing’ of communication

Before implementing a lesson plan consider what opportunities it gives to the learners to experience relationships and their learning through non-verbal and non-written means of communication. For example, when developing a notion of consent, is it something that may be experienced through ‘doing’ some physical or a spatial interaction? Are there daily non-verbal interactions involving elements of consent which could be explored in pairs or groups and shared with the class? Could an idea be introduced through a physical demonstration to the class, rather than a verbal explanation?

Tip 3 Change the learning space

If you are going to engage learners by doing something active, consider how you could change the learning environment to make it clear that this session is different from their day-to-day learning. Clues: orientate tables to suggest small group work without a front of class focal point, arrange chairs in a circle, pull the blinds and use digital technologies to change the visual and auditory environment.

Tip 4 Focus on relationships

Most topics, for example STIs, will have a biological or medical dimension, but try to think about it in terms of relationships and interactions and not purely in terms of symptoms and treatments. We know that, used correctly, condoms give protection against STIs, but how is the use of a condom actually negotiated? Who, how and when might the negotiation be initiated? Are there other social dynamics which might influence the likelihood of a condom being used, such as friends and alcohol? Can these dynamics be captured in short phrases? E.g. ”It’s more fun if I put it on for you.”

By incremental steps, participants deepen their engagement and can enhance their personal agency by constructing short scripts and role plays.

Tip 5 Exploit oppositional tendencies

It is much easier and more meaningful to explore simple scripting and role-play activities when it is acknowledged that within themselves characters experience tensions and conflicts eg public versus private, wants versus worries, personal beliefs versus social norms.


Masks can offer a wide range of metaphors and practical activities. They reveal as well as conceal. Emoji’s might be thought of as a kind of mask. They don’t always mean exactly what they show. Take a theme like identities. A simple oval plain mask can be drawn on each side of a piece of paper, one side could be designed to stand for all the outward signs of a person’s gender and the other side could stand for all those aspects which are kept secret or internalised. Often these can be presented and spoken about through the mask itself but can also take the form of freeze-frames which could be accompanied by just one or two phrases.


To develop your own practice in this style of teaching read about 'Activate' our latest training event.