Government gives school sex education a refresh but it won't be compulsory

The government has released a fresh set of guidelines looking to bring sex education into the 21st century.

There'll be a greater focus on consent and porn, but teaching these topics still won't be compulsory.

Health teacher Nat Bell is used to asking the weird questions. Teaching kids about healthy and positive relationships is a passion that's guided by her students. 

"How I teach is what these people need to know," Bell said.

Something that sounds obvious but isn't always done. So the Ministry of Education has released a refreshed set of guidelines to make it easier for teachers to tackle topics like consent and the influence of porn.

"I think all of us understand relationships are incredibly important and have become more complex over time because of the different issues that young people are facing these days, including the digital environment," Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti said.

A 2018 study found three-quarters of young New Zealanders had discovered pornography by accident, with a quarter exposed to it by 12 years old.

This runs the risk of kids thinking what they see on their screens is a normal sexual relationship. 

"That's not okay. We need to do better," Tinetti said. "Which is why it needs to be part of the health, and relationships and sexuality education. 

"For us it's just like your normal everyday content," one student said.

"It's almost everywhere and it's really like jarring," another said.

"Talking about it helped really change how I saw myself," a third said.

But teaching about consent after year 10 still won't be compulsory.

"I've already signalled that's something that I want us to look into," Tinetti said.

Only 16 percent of Kiwi schools use the government's current consent programme.

A number that'll hopefully skyrocket with the 2022-proofed education refresh.