No changes will be made to sexual consent classes in school - Ministry of Education

Frances Cook of the NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thursday, 16 March 2017, 5:15PM
Protesters during their rally against rape culture at Parliament on Monday (Mark Mitchell).
Protesters during their rally against rape culture at Parliament on Monday (Mark Mitchell).

Sexual consent won't become a compulsory subject for New Zealand schools, according to the Ministry of Education.

Wellington College students have brought the issue into the spotlight recently, after controversial comments made online.

Two students have been stood down for five days, after comments including "If you don't take advantage of a drunk girl, you're not a true Wc [Wellington College] boy."

Protesters gathered outside Parliament on Monday to demand sexual consent be taught in schools.

They argued that greater education would be a step towards reducing rape culture, where sexual assault is minimised and excused.

But now those who want such changes are being told to go directly to their school to request it.

The Ministry of Education has issued a statement, saying that enforcing the teaching of consent won't help.

Deputy Secretary for Early Learning and Student Achievement Karl Le Quesne said some schools already included consent in sex education.

"Sexuality education is a compulsory part of our health and physical education curriculum, which schools must deliver in Years 1 to 10.

"For secondary schools, [our guidelines] set out a clear pathway through topics that include consent, coercion, and sexual violence.



"While teaching consent in schools isn't a silver bullet, it is an essential part of addressing unacceptable behaviour."

Despite this, the Ministry won't make it compulsory for schools to include consent in their sexual education classes.

It also won't look at changing the current curriculum sexual education guidelines.

Le Quesne said schools were encouraged to work together with parent communities to put together sexual education classes.

"If you're not sure what your school is teaching on consent, and how closely it is following the sexuality education guidance at each year level, then it's a good time to talk to them too and ask for more information," he said.

"Schools are required to consult with their school communities every two years, or more often, about how they teach sexuality education.

"It is one of the reasons there is variation from school to school in teaching this."

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett has previously said that consent is already taught in New Zealand schools, and that dealing with rape culture was not a "government solution alone".

A special assembly was held at Wellington College today, to address the fallout from the online comments.

Julia Davidson, the principal of sister school Wellington Girls' College, visited the school to speak at the assembly.

Some senior students also spoke about the issue.

Both schools declined to comment to the Herald about the assembly, and what topics were raised.

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