Relationships and Sexuality Education

Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE)

Developments in Contraception

According to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the UK has traditionally had the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Western Europe. However, there has been a particularly rapid decline in teenage pregnancy across the UK over the last two decades, with Northern Ireland experiencing a significant decline.

This highlights the positive impact that effective RSE can have on young people’s sexual behaviour. Ideally, young people would feel comfortable discussing sex and contraception with their parents, but they are often too embarrassed to do so.

Comprehensive school-based information can encourage young people to avoid looking for facts about sex from potentially unreliable sources like pornography or their peers.

These sources are unlikely to give young people the information they need to prevent unplanned pregnancy or protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections.

This area of the RSE Hub signposts to resources and guidance information that can help teachers, parents/carers and young people explore contemporary advances in contraception and the different options available. It also signposts to local organisations that can offer confidential advice, treatment and support to young people.

Teachers must not give personal medical advice to individual pupils. You should advise pupils to seek advice from parents/carers, the school health team or medical practitioners.

Key Stage 3

As they progress through Key Stage 3, young people should be taught about:

  • using contraception to prevent unplanned pregnancy;
  • the current contraception options available; and
  • how barrier contraceptives, such as the condom, can offer some protection against the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

Key Stage 4

Building on the learning from Key Stage 3, young people in Key Stage 4 should be taught about the different contraception options available and how to access them. They should also understand that:

  • they should make an informed choice about the contraception method that is most appropriate for them, depending on their health, lifestyle and preferences; and
  • different contraception methods can vary in effectiveness and have associated risks.