Relationships and Sex Education

Apause peer education: Effective peer-led SRE

The Apause peer programme is the most widely used in the country and has proved effective in classrooms representing a spectrum of ethnic and religious mixes. Peer educators are usually two or three years older than the learners and are uniquely effective at creating a social norm in which unwanted pressure to become sexually involved is unacceptable.

The Apause peer programme comprises four one-hour sessions and is designed to fit into the SRE curriculum for Year 9 (age 13-14) students. They can be easily split into 8 sessions to enable delivery during Tutorial sessions to mesh with existing timetabling for PSHE and Peers. The peer educators are usually post-16 students, but an increasing number of schools without a 6th form are being very successful at using Year 11 students.

All the critical skills, ideas and pieces of information are contained in the ‘Peer Manual’. Reading from the peer manual enables peer educators to quickly develop a personal and effective style of delivery without having to memorise large amounts of text. This ensures Year 9 students benefit from a full curricular entitlement consistently delivered to a high standard.

The peers complement the adult-led components of Apause and have a direct impact on the social dimensions of sexual and relational health. Highly interactive and participatory, the peer sessions are greatly valued by the learners and influence those normative beliefs, expectations and behaviours which help them to exercise healthy choices.

Learners explore reasons why young teenagers become sexually involved, and arrive at a class consensus that most reasons are not good enough and that there are more reasons to wait.

Different forms of pressure are identified and necessary strategies and assertiveness skills are modelled and practised, thus enabling learners to have greater choice in their sexual life journeys.