Newell, S, Britt, W & Graham, A 2011, Evaluating Interrelate's School Education Programs: consolidated report, prepared for Interrelate Family Centres, Sydney, NSW.
In working towards their vision of being a ‘lighthouse’ organisation for recognising children, Interrelate offers a suite of six relationship and sexuality education programs for children, families and teachers across New South Wales. Each program is facilitated by specially trained Educators and has a clearly articulated structure, content and objectives, with the four classroom-based programs having been correlated against the NSW Board of Studies’ PD/H/PE syllabus. In March 2010, Interrelate Family Centres commissioned Southern Cross University’s Centre for Children & Young People to refine their existing program evaluation tools and, then, to use these new tools to conduct a large-scale evaluation of the above education programs. This Consolidated Report is the final in a series of six reports presenting the results of this large-scale evaluation. It overviews the methods used and summarises the key findings across all six programs, with individual program-level results discussed in more detail in the five earlier reports. These findings are based on data collected from 43 Minding Me groups, 56 Moving Into The Teen Years groups, 39 Where Did I Come From? groups, 39 Preparing For Puberty groups, 26 Raising Awareness of Bullying groups and 84 Kids ConneXions groups. With very high levels of satisfaction and perceived usefulness, Interrelate can confidently promote their school programs as an acceptable, curriculum-relevant and effective way of introducing senior primary students to relationship and sexuality education topics. The programs also successfully stimulated parent-child discussion of the topics covered. Hence, Interrelate is well-positioned to contribute to addressing the reported demand (from Australian parents and youth) for more comprehensive relationship and sexual health education, which is seen to include topics such as personal safety, sexual coercion, puberty, sexually-transmitted diseases, relationship decision-making, safe sex and contraception, reproduction and the correct names for male and female genitals. The timing of Interrelate’s programs (Years 3-6) is another strength, given most Australian parents’ belief that this education should start in primary school and evidence that it has more impact when delivered before young people become sexually active. The teacher involvement in the classroom-based programs is valuable, given parent and teacher-perceived room for improvement in training teachers in the delivery of sexuality education. The parental involvement in the family-based programs is also valuable, as it is argued to benefit schools, parents and students, by ensuring that young people receive similar messages from their two main environments and by facilitating improved parent-teacher communication.