02 December 2020

Plan sexuality and gender education years 1-8

Suggestion for implementing the strategy ‘Developing an inclusive classroom and curriculum’

Focus areas in years 1–6

Focus areas in years 1–6

Develop classroom programmes that respect the diverse values and beliefs of students and of the community.

Students will learn about:

Years 1–3

  • growth and development
  • the human body
  • friendships and family relationships
  • changes in growth and identifying body parts
  • questioning and discussing gender stereotypes and norms
  • sharing and expressing feelings

Years 4–6

  • pubertal change
  • growth and development
  • supporting themselves and others through change
  • developing a positive body image
  • how social messages and stereotypes about relationships, sexuality, and gender affect wellbeing
  • planning strategies for positive relationships
  • identifying risks and issues in online and social media environments
  • messages related to gender, sexuality, and diversity
  • accessing health care.

Source: Sexuality Education: A guide for principals, boards of trustees, and teachers (opens in a new tab/window)

Understand stages of development

Understand stages of development

Design learning programmes that meet students’ developmental stages

Ages 5–8

  • By the age of six, most children show an interest in how babies are made. 
  • They will want to know how the egg and sperm get together.
  • They are interested in pregnancy and birth.
  • Some children in this age group may be aware of the connection between “making babies” and sexual pleasure. 
  • They are likely to hear stories about sex in the playground. 
  • Some children will become aware that not everyone is heterosexual.
  • They have a growing awareness of sanctioned gender roles, such as “girls don’t play soccer” or “boys don’t cry”.

Ages 9–12

  • Children’s bodies develop and change while at primary school.
  • All children need to know about puberty before it happens. 
  • Sometimes children feel anxious about puberty. 
  • Children have a growing interest in sex. They may look up information in books, tell rude jokes and talk with their friends about sex.
  • They may go into and out of gender segregation, applying harsh gender stereotypical rules and censure to each other’s behaviour.
  • Some children will have an interest in expressing their sexuality in dress.

Source: Catching on early: Sexuality education for Victorian primary schools (opens in a new tab/window)

Tips for developing programmes

Tips for developing programmes

Successful programmes are:

  • well planned, informed by theory and evidence, and up-to-date
  • integrated into the curriculum, with clear achievement objectives identified
  • aimed at influencing specific risk factors/protective factors/core competencies
  • focused on developing personal and social skills
  • developmentally, personally, and culturally appropriate
  • designed to include critical thinking and reflection
  • not focused solely on dangers, risks, and prevention but explore the meanings associated with sex and sexuality for individuals and society
  • assessed according to learning (not behaviour)
  • connected with the social worlds of children and young people
  • informed by the needs and perspectives of students
  • linked with families and communities
  • considerate of environmental influences and contemporary issues and practices
  • designed using active and interactive teaching methods, including inquiry-based learning
  • planned and delivered by teachers who have the requisite knowledge and the appropriate skills, values, and qualities
  • resourced appropriately, including in relation to teachers’ professional development needs
  • supported by documented guidelines and school-wide practices.

Source: Sexuality education in The New Zealand Curriculum (opens in a new tab/window)

Useful resources

Useful resources


Inside Out for Year 7–8 students

Publisher: RainbowYOUTH

Visit website

Catching on early Sexuality education for Victorian primary schools

Catching on early: Sexuality education for Victorian primary schools

Read time: 236 min

Publisher: FUSE

Visit website


Primary/Intermediate teaching resources

Publisher: New Zealand Family Planning

Visit website

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Develop an inclusive classroom and curriculum”:

Return to the guide “Supporting LGBTIQA+ students”

Guide to Index of the guide: LGBTIQA+ students