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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Simon Forrest

Strange, V., Oakley, A. Forrest, S. & & the Ripple Study Team. (2003). Mixed-sex or single-sex sex education how would young people like their sex education and why? Gender & Education 15(2): 201-214.

Author(s) from Durham


This article examines young people's views about sex education and focuses specifically on their views about interaction in single- and mixed-sex groups. Analysis of data from a survey of 3355 young people (aged 15/16 years), carried out in 13 co-educational English secondary schools (as part of the RIPPLE study), showed that the majority of girls, and about one-third of boys, would like some or all of their sex education to be delivered in single-sex groups. Data from 15 focus groups were analysed to examine the reasons for these preferences. The way in which sex education lessons are 'gendered' was explored by examining young people's views about the ways in which particular aspects of sex education classes (including the characteristics of teachers, the content, teaching methods and age of students) influenced their responses and interaction in lessons. Interaction in single- and mixed-sex focus group discussions was also analysed to provide insight into how interaction about sexual health issues may differ in single- and mixed-sex groups. It is concluded that the views of these young people support the call for more sex education with girls to be delivered in single-sex groups.