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A Model for Sex Education

Providing sex education relevant to students' lives at school

This innovation provides teachers the tools to build sex education that answers students' questions. The model lets the students participate creatively and helps them use reliable sources to answer their questions.

Finland 100


HundrED has selected this innovation to

Finland 100

Web presence






March 2017
Young people live in a fast-paced and global world that is foreign to rigid and rarely updated curricula. Sex education must be reformed in real cooperation with young people themselves.

About the innovation

What is it all about?

Adolescents have many questions concerning sex, sexuality, identity and autonomy. These questions are about the recent developments in their body and mind, but society plays a part, as well. Young people often feel pressured to behave in a certain way and harbor prejudices.

Young people research things routinely and observe everything around them. Everyone develops in their own time and some have their first sexual encounter at the age of 13–15. People usually settle into their gender and sexual orientation during adolescence.

Sex education means learning about the cognitive, emotional, social, interactive and physical aspects of sexuality. Today, sex education seeks to equip young people with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values they need to determine and enjoy their sexuality – physically and emotionally, individually and in relationships. (WHO)

The framework of sex education corresponds with young people's information needs – even those that are not included in the curricula.

People have access to more information than ever, however, most of the sources young people use are unreliable or not age-appropriate. Young people expect that information provided by the school is reliable, so education must meet these needs. Education must answer all the questions students' may have and include sexuality and gender minorities, as well. This framework encompasses the legal conditions regarding equality and non-discrimination to include everyone in education.

The framework designs the education around young people's questions and wishes. Mapping the students' information needs helps you to decide what themes interest them and bring these topics to the front. Students use various methods in the assignments, whatever feels most natural: video, comics, poetry or creating trivia questions.

When students can participate in designing their education and the actual teaching process, they learn research skills as well as the answers to their questions. Students become active researchers and teachers instead of passive listeners. Teachers should connect the topics to a broader framework.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability


Young people are truly included in planning their education and provided an opportunity to learn more about the subject independently.


Providing sex education that answers the questions young people have. Knowledge on sex and sexuality is based on facts and young people don't need to find information in unreliable sources.


The contents can be adapted to suit the local culture. The students design the themes and questions.


Implementation steps

Introduction to the training
An icebreaker helps you to map the students' prejudices and introduces the topic.

The goal is to help the students to understand the extent of the terminology and approach the theme from multiple angles.

Young people often associate “sexuality” with “sex” so they may dismiss the emotional and social aspects of sexuality.

Icebreaker idea:

  • Writing task: “What do you associate with the word 'sexuality'? 'Sex'? 'Sexual orientation'? 'Gender identity'?”

  • Post-it brainstorming: In a safe classroom you can do a similar task where students write their answers on post-its and place them under the corresponding topics.

  • Conversation: Teacher-led conversation about the replies. The conversation can also cover more topics.

  • Expert help: You can approach the topic with a visiting lecturer or informational videos.


It is imperative, especially for the introduction phase, that you create an environment that encourages open dialogue and present a clear framework for the discussions. This serves as practice for many students to discuss topics concerning sexuality – don't be discouraged if students break some boundaries. Calm the situation and allow the students to move at their own speed. Remember that every student operates on a different level: some have pondered extensively about questions concerning their sexuality, some have just began having them.

Mapping the information need
The goal for mapping the information need is to discover what themes and questions are on young people's mind right now. These topics should be included in the education.Ideas for mapping the information need:

  • You may use the entire survey developed by the Family Federation of Finland (Väestöliitto) as it is presented or in parts. The survey (HundrED-questionnaire) is linked below.

  • If your classroom is a safe space, you can hang topics around the room and students can mark the ones they are interested in.

  • You can set up an “Ask Me Anything!” box where students can submit questions anonymously.


Sexuality may be a sensitive subject or cause feelings of embarrassment so you should allow anonymous, private replies, at least in part. This step helps you to include themes that you may have overlooked otherwise.

Selecting themes
The education should center around themes introduced in step 2.

You should pick themes that were the most popular, but often singular insights can prove important and interesting to others.

  • The teacher should go through the results from step 2 and choose 10–15 central themes or questions, depending on the size of the class. Alternatively, the themes may be decided by a student vote.

  • Groups of 2–3 should discuss different themes and how to approach them: “How could we discuss these topics in class? What methods would be interesting and support learning?”

  • Share thoughts and ideas using Padlet, or using another method.


Discuss different teaching approaches with the class. The students will share ideas and think honestly about what themes they would like to explore.

Preparing and presenting the themes
Students form small groups and choose a theme.

They will decide how they approach the subject. The goal is that the students gain a voice and create material that reflect themselves. The students learn to conduct research and teach others what they discovered.

You can set a time-limit and a timetable for the presentations. This allows the teacher to prepare additional viewpoints for the topics.

The presentations can be made using:

  • a Power Point presentation

  • a comic strip

  • a video

  • an interview(s)

  • a podcast

  • a questionnaire

  • an animation

  • a Kahoot quiz

You will find the instructions for working collaboratively at the bottom of this step.

The students will prepare and hand out materials for the others. The presentations will be held in front of the class and the teacher will expand on the topic, if necessary.

Every theme includes a homework assignment. The small groups plan the assignment together with the teacher. The group assigned to the theme discuss the answers with the class at the start of the next lesson.


Students rarely finalize their ideas during a single lesson and you should allow them time for brainstorming. It is also important to control your impulse to throw ideas to the students and let them steer the lessons.

Participation in education increases student-activity as well as creativity and the sense of responsibility towards research and presenting information. Students also become aware that their thoughts have value. The teacher's role is to facilitate and provide assistance in verbalizing ideas and posing questions.

The course is graded based on teacher-assessment and self-assessment.

The class can decide the assessment principals together. For example, a good grade can be based on utilizing creative and innovative methods; researching many different sources; and approaching the subject from multiple angles.

The material for self-assessment is provided in the link below.

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