The Open University (OU) has partnered with sexual health and wellbeing experts, Brook to deliver an online course to support teachers in providing abortion education in schools. Designed to improve the knowledge and confidence of those teaching about pregnancy decision-making and abortion to young people aged 13+, the free course has been shaped by research from the OU’s Dr Lesley Hoggart, Professor of Social Policy Research and Dr Victoria Newton, Senior Research Fellow.
45% of pregnancies are unplanned, with one in three British women having an abortion during their reproductive lifetime. Despite these facts, stigma and misinformation are still rife, and young people are missing out on a vital education about pregnancy prevention and pregnancy options.
When it comes to relationships and sex education (RSE), research from the Sex Education Forum shows that teachers are least confident teaching about pregnancy choices, while 33% of young people report that their abortion education is either non-existent or inadequate.
Featuring real life stories gathered as part of the OU’s award-winning public engagement project, My Body My Life, as well as clear information, videos and guided classroom activities, the course explores abortion as an option.
Lisa Hallgarten, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Brook, said:
“We’re really proud to have worked with The Open University, drawing on their research and our classroom experience, to bring this teaching resource to life. Everyone will know someone affected by unintended pregnancy and abortion at some point. It’s crucial that teachers are equipped with the knowledge, confidence and tools to separate facts from myths, challenge stigma; and facilitate engaging, impartial, evidence-based conversations on pregnancy and abortion in the classroom.”
Professor Lesley Hoggart added:
“Abortion, like so much of women’s reproductive and sexual health, can be difficult to talk about. It is a topic often shrouded in secrecy and silence, which leads to stigma and shame.
By featuring the real stories we gathered as part of our project – My Body My Life – we can ensure that young people get an honest, realistic portrayal of all aspects of abortion – from how easily an unplanned pregnancy can become part of women’s lives, how different women have taken their decision to have an abortion, and what the process was like for them.”
From September 2020, RSE will become mandatory in all secondary schools in England, while relationships education will be compulsory in all primary schools. In line with the new Department for Education statutory guidance, schools must provide ‘accurate, impartial information on all pregnancy options, including keeping the baby, adoption, abortion and where to get further help’.
Available on Brook’s free-to-access online learning platform Brook Learn, the ‘Abortion’ course sits alongside a comprehensive suite of RSE resources for professionals.
Register for free now at learn.brook.org.uk
Find out more
About My Body My Life