Contrasting Education, Health and Youth Approaches to Sex Education: What might interprofessional learning be? – Dr Pam Alldred, Brunel University London
Among professionals delivering Sex & Relationship Education (SRE) in the UK, my earlier research found that teachers and school nurses held contrasting views of SRE: most notably differing over how young people and young people’s sexual activity was seen, but also in their understandings of sex education and of their own role in delivering it (Alldred & David 2007). Practices in health and in education respectively gave rise to differing understandings that reflect distinct professional concerns. I am now able to add a youth work angle so this paper will compare accounts of sex education work from these three groups of professionals and explore the significance of their differing approaches for attributing agency to young people. I conclude that SRE operates differently within these differing professional approaches, and that youth work and health services are more able to grant what Allen (2005) called ‘sexual subjecthood’ to young people, while an educational understanding of ‘child-as-pupil’ profoundly limits how teachers understand sexualities education. This highlights the value of youth work sites and approaches for SRE because of pedagogies that are young person- and relationship-centred and therefore more easily recognise young people as sexual subjects.
Dr Pam Alldred is Reader in Education and Youth Studies in the Social Work Division at Brunel University London, UK. From 2012-16 she was Director of the Centre for Youth Work Studies. She researches sexualities, parenting and sex education and has led large international projects on helping youth practitioners tackle gender-related violence (https://sites.brunel.ac.uk/gap) and on sexual violence in universities (www.USVReact/eu). Dr Alldred recently published ‘Sociology and the New Materialism’ (with N J Fox, SAGE 2016) and is currently editing the ‘Handbook of Youth Work Practice’ (for SAGE 2017). She is on the Sex Education, and the Gender and Education journal editorial boards.
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