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P199 Changing teenagers’ perspectives on their sexual health: results from an innovative educational programme in uk secondary schools
  1. Miriam Hillyard1,
  2. Beatrice Cockbain2
  1. 1Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  2. 2Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

Abstract

Background/introduction UK schools are not obliged to provide comprehensive sex and relationships education (SRE). SRE is frequently outdated, taught by non-specialists, and covers only the technicalities of heterosexual sex and sexually-transmitted diseases.

Aim(s)/objectives We aimed to deliver a peer-led programme of age-appropriate sessions covering sexual, physical, and psychological health, inclusive of non-heterosexual and non-cisgender identities. Sessions were designed to empower young people aged 11–18 to discuss these topics in a non-judgemental environment.

Methods 50-minute sessions encompassed body image, drugs and alcohol, sex and sexual risk taking, or contraception. Trained university student volunteers employed games, small group discussions, quizzes, and visual media. Volunteer to pupil ratio averaged 1:8. Pupils were encouraged to ask questions and reflect throughout. Anonymous written feedback assessed pupils’ enjoyment of the sessions, volunteers’ teaching ability, and impact of the sessions on their self-perception.

Results 876 feedback forms were completed. 91.8% of pupils enjoyed the sessions and 93.0% rated them as well taught. 61.9% of pupils reported the session to have changed the way they felt about themselves or their health. Free text comments from the remaining 38.1% indicated prior comfort with navigating health issues. Forms also showed high levels of satisfaction with the opportunity to receive non-judgemental, comprehensive responses from relatable peer-educators.

Discussion/conclusion Comprehensive SRE delivered by knowledgeable peer-educators allows teenagers to freely discuss issues surrounding their sexual and mental health, empowering them to make informed decisions and potentially affecting their risk-taking behaviours. This programme demonstrates an innovative but easily replicable means of providing this education.

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