Wire, Tracey (2019) Sex education, gender and sexualised behaviour in the primary school: a qualitative analysis of parent, teacher and pupil perspectives. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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This thesis compares teachers’ and parents’ views concerning content and delivery of KS1 Sex and Relationships Education with children’s lived experiences and understanding of gender and sexuality. Data was gathered through 18 focus group interviews drawn from a Midlands primary school. These revealed the hegemonic nature of heterosexuality within the primary school and family. Parents’ expectations of their own children were underpinned by assumptions of heterosexuality and innocence. Likewise, teachers assumed heterosexuality but drew more upon a professional discourse of appropriate pedagogy and maturity. Most adult participants highlighted the need to educate children for the world they encounter and were keen to promote tolerance and understanding of the assumed Other. What became evident among the adults was a lack of confidence in their own abilities as educators and a lack of certainty about what might be appropriate. Children’s expressions of gender and sexuality were firmly rooted within a largely stereotypical binary framework, as were their articulated “romantic” aspirations. Children’s attachment to traditional views about female and male were evident in some of the ways they policed gender and sexual identities and in discussions that covered play, future employment and children’s girlfriend/boyfriend relationships (involvement in which enhanced children’s status among their peers but were ignored or dismissed by parents). Despite moves to make Relationships Education statutory, this remains a sensitive subject, treated uniquely within the curriculum. I propose that it should be rooted in children’s prior knowledge and understanding of the world and themselves rather than on that assumed or hoped for by adults. Adults, I argue, must talk to and observe children, acknowledging that their lives carry authentic meaning. They need to educate real rather than imagined children. Teachers should critically examine how school structures affect children’s active construction of their gender and sexual identities and how they view others.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social, Political and Global Studies
Contributors: Shain, Farzana (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2019 10:03
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2019 11:00
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/7144

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