Research to support a whole-school approach to RSE

In this section, you will find peer-reviewed research that supports the implementation of RSE. The articles can be accessed for free and used to develop a whole school approach to RSE, including consulting with whānau and the wider community. For specific research connected to working with whānau, see the parent portal tab. Please let us know if there is any other research you would like included in the sections below, and subscribe to our newsletter for updates. 

Mobile phone with Beyond the Birds and Bees app

Aotearoa-based research supporting the need for relationships and sexuality education (RSE)

Fitzpatrick, K., McGlashan, H., Tirumalai, V., Fenaughty, J., & Veukiso-Ulugia, A. (2022). Relationships and sexuality education: Key research informing new zealand curriculum policy. Health Education Journal, 81(2), 134-156

A research article offering rationales and links to global literature relating to the effectiveness of CSE in supporting youth development and achieving several of the SDGs.

Haberland, N., Rogow, D. (2015). Sexuality education: emerging trends in evidence and practice. In: Journal of Adolescent Health, 56, 15-21. 

This policy paper describes the science-based support for CSE. It includes calls to action to ensure the delivery of comprehensive sexuality education in line with commitments made within SDG 4.

GEM Report Team (2019). Facing the facts: the case for comprehensive sexuality education. Global education monitoring report: policy paper, 39. Paris: UNESCO.

RSE in Years 1-8

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Aotearoa-based research to support the development of a whole-school approach to RSE. 

Dixon, R., Clelland, T., & Blair, M. (2022). It takes a village: Partnerships in primary school relationships and sexuality education in Aotearoa. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies.

An extensive international meta-analysis of comprehensive sex education. This research provides support for implementing RSE from the primary school level.

Goldfarb, E. & Lieberman, L. (2021). Three decades of research: The case for comprehensive sex education. Journal of Adolescent Health, 68(1), 13–27. 

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Recent research on the current landscape of relationships and sexuality education in primary schools in New Zealand. 

Dixon, R., Clelland, T., & Blair, M. (2023). Exploring the landscape of relationships and sexuality education in primary schools in New Zealand. University of Canterbury Research Repository.

RSE for Years 9-13

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What do young people want to learn in RSE? This Aotearoa-based research provides insight for educators when planning their programmes and working with whānau and communities.

NZFP (2019). Young people’s experiences of sexuality education

The majority of parents and whānau in Aotearoa support RSE in schools. This Aotearoa-based research provides insight for educators on parents/whānau views and ways everyone can work together to provide the quality RSE young people are calling for in today’s digital world.

(Current research undertaken by Clelland with parents/whānau will be available soon)

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NZ teacher’s perspectives – This recent report highlights ways senior leadership can support quality RSE. 

Dixon, R., Robertson, J., Beliveau, A., Reid, S., Maitland, R., & Dalley, J.(2022). New Zealand
secondary school teachers’ perspectives on teaching Relationships and Sexuality Education 

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UNESCO Toolkit for Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE). CSE as it’s called at a global level, is central to health and well-being. Good quality CSE includes education about human rights, human sexuality, gender equality, puberty, relationships and sexual and reproductive health.

This toolkit provides further international evidence and tools for Aotearoa-based RSE including consultation.

Te Puāwaitanga: Beyond the Birds and Bees Research

Te Puāwaitanga aims to ensure a research-based platform for opening up the kōrero on RSE. Phase two of this project involved 22 focus groups with rangatahi/young people across Canterbury. Here we explored what they wanted from RSE and how digital technologies could play a part. Phase three involved working in-depth with a small group of rangatahi from across the motu to co-construct the delivery of RSE. The resulted in the creation of  TikTok channel culminated. Over the next 6 months, we will continue to post the research findings here on our website for all parents/whānau and rangatahi/young people to discuss.

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RSE ideas from young people 

The research team created the following tables to support all educators and parents in understanding young people’s views. The tables were created by analysing participants’ anonymous submissions on what should be included in a digital RSE platform. The research team chose to use the words that young people wrote and generated 6 themes. 

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Coming soon “Left to our own devices”

Young people consistently told us that they are being left to their own devices when it comes to RSE. Six key themes were generated:

  • It’s still awkward. Normalise the kōrero.
  • Communication is a risky business
  • Navigating relationships on our own
  • Learning inequalities
  • Listen up parents/whānau and educators/kaiako
  • Young people as agents of change

Coming soon

Co-constructing RSE with rangatahi. 

Te hanga piriti mo o ngā mokopuna.

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