A much-talked about Channel 4 documentary showing graphic sex education lessons in an Accrington school overtook England’s Ashes joy and the London tube strike as the top trending topic on Twitter.
Sex in Class, which aired on Thursday night, saw Belgian sexologist Goedele Liekens take on a class of students from the Hollins Technology College in a new style of sex education, featuring frank discussions, including about pornography and shaving pubic hair.
The programme attracted thousands of tweets and comments on social media, including from Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills, who tweeted ‘The Belgians are well relaxed #sexinclass’
The sexual health charity Brook tweeted: “#SexInClass shows that #SRE can be a great help starting to negotiate sex, relationships, growing up & much more.”
Lots of comments addressed the attitudes of some young people towards sex.
Collette Winters tweeted: “Our society has created an environment for abuse to thrive. Giving boys unhealthy ideas of sex & disempowering girls to speak out.”
Discussions on the programme ranged from asking staff at the school what tools they used for teaching sex education, to discussing shaving pubic hair with the pupils.
In a statement posted on the school’s website this week, headteacher Steve Campbell explained the reasons for undertaking the show.
He said: “In September 2014 The Hollins was approached by Ricochet, a television production company working with Channel 4, and asked if we would be prepared to take part in a documentary about sex education.
“After meeting with the television production company representatives, who also gave a presentation to the school governors, it was agreed that we would take part.
“The aim of this project was to give a small group of year 11 students a more ‘open’ type of sex education, similar in nature to that delivered in Belgium and Holland. Students had to volunteer to be part of the project and had to have full parental support.
“The project took place after school and was delivered by Goedele Liekens, a Belgian psychologist and UN goodwill ambassador on sexual health.
“Our students took part in Goedele’s lessons and at the end of the project sat an examination to see how much they had learned.”
Mr Campbell said he want to reassure parents that the lessons formed part of a pilot scheme and were not representative of the lessons taught.
He said: “However, as a result of some positive teaching outcomes we have incorporated some elements into our syllabus at an age appropriate point.”
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