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The University of Exeter ‘s Sex & History recognised by the prestigious sexual health charity FPA

Experts honoured for their work using historical objects to help pupils discuss sex and relationships

Experts who help teachers and pupils use historic objects as a way to discuss sex and relationships have been honoured for their work.

The University of Exeter ‘s Sex & History was recognised by the prestigious sexual health charity FPA 2017 Pamela Sheridan Awards, given for innovation and good practice in relationships and sex education.

Sex & History, founded in 2009 by Professors Kate Fisher and Rebecca Langlands and Dr Jen Grove, helps teachers use objects from past cultures as a stimulus for discussing sex and relationships. The aim is to improve the sexual health and well-being of young people.

Sex & History has a highly effective core methodology which has been adapted for use in a range of different educational settings including mainstream secondary schools, pupil referral units and extra-curricula projects working with children with special educational needs. It produces a range of free and ready-to-use resources for sex education lessons in schools and youth groups which are being well received by teachers and educators across the country. It is equally effective when integrated into the curriculum and used to enhance the delivery of subjects such as ethics, philosophy, geography, art, history, music or drama.

Research shows using the past can open up new ways of thinking about sex today. The academics have found  that using examples from history helps to start discussions which are at a safe distance from sensitive issues. For instance, encounters with historical material helps young people realise the different and similar ways people in the past thought about desire, intimacy, gender, sexuality, body image, power and control, which opens up new reflections on these issues today. 

The award judges, who gave the project the highly commended award, said it was a “unique and highly creative approach to relationships and sex education.”

They said: "Sex and History uses historical artefacts to stimulate discussions about sex and relationships. Looking at images of a range of objects allows young people to engage in a completely different way – like one participant who observed ‘“Because it wasn't anything to do with nowadays… because it was nothing to do with me, it was easy to talk about.”

"The judges all agreed that Sex and History is original and imaginative, and that the free-resources for teachers support good practice by providing an excellent guide through the conversations they will generate, to achieve clear RSE outcomes. In short, we all agreed we’d like to participate in a Sex and History lesson – they sound great."

Date: 5 December 2017

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