Introducing APAUSE

Introducing APAUSE

Over many years, with the collaboration of teachers and health professionals, the Apause SRE programme has been guided by the experiences and insights of young people. The team has paid particular attention to what works in achieving desired behaviours.

The programme comprises:

  • Six adult-facilitated exercises (20 – 50 mins each) in KS3
  • Six adult-facilitated exercises (20 – 50 mins each) in KS4
  • peer facilitated programme (3 or 4 hours), which usually follows the adult-facilitated sessions in KS3.

In many areas across the country Apause has been supported with funding from Local Education Authorities and Primary Care Trusts and has been welcomed by all stakeholders in almost all types of secondary schools, including faith schools and schools serving ethnic minority communities. 

It has been extensively evaluated for effectiveness; including a close examination for the Teenage Pregnancy Unit by the National Foundation for Education Research which confirmed formal trial findings. Compared with controls Apause students showed: increased knowledge, a decreased importance attached to sexual intimacy in relationships, postponement of first intercourse, and better use of contraception. 

As regional data becomes available we have learned that Apause formed the basis for the SRE programmes in two areas achieving dramatic decreases in Teenage pregnancy rates (Hull and Bradford). The programme was highly positively evaluated in Ireland. What follows are extracts from a case study produced independently of Apause in March 2010.

Evaluation of Apause by Department of Health for Healthy Schools


Dawlish Community College, Devon: Outcomes
Over 104,000 teenagers from schools around the country completed the APAUSE Year 11 questionnaires between 1992 and 2006. This data was analysed to stimulate the debate on Sex and Relationship Education and to provide evidence of some effective solutions.

The research findings confirmed the view that effective Sex and Relationships Education is:

•   remembered by young people,

•   useful to boys and young men as well as girls and young women,

•   appreciated by them,

•   able to increase their knowledge, correct myths and alert young people to risks,

•   associated with changes in attitude - increasing tolerance and respect

•   linked with decreased risk taking. (Delay of first intercourse, and improved use of contraception at first and most recent intercourse)

Overall outcomes at Dawlish Community College:

(All quotes are from the Head of PSHE - Marina Gaskell)

 •   Increases young people’s skills

'The year 11 students read from a script, it's brilliant for them because the process builds up their self esteem, their confidence and their communication skills'. Usually year 9 students are also more forthcoming with answers and discussions during the year 11 sessions’.

•   Provides a trusted advice, support and guidance service for students

‘Because some of the sessions are run by Year 11 students it provides young people with a person that they can contact in school if need be. Because that person has had training they can offer advice’

•   Raises awareness

‘The peer led programme opens up the discussion in school about sex education and what it is all about. It makes it more viable to talk about it. We want students to have discussions about it in the playground. When you know that students are delivering it, it helps that discussion process and young people know that it is ok to talk about it’                                                                                                                                         

•   Involves the whole school community

‘The whole school is really positive about the programme. It is a chance for getting students involved in delivery and its all about helping the school community’  


•    Increases staff skills

'For teachers, you don't normally get a chance to stand back and let students deliver sessions. Teachers are there to support and help and they let the students take control. It's good for teacher's own learning to see that students can shine in such a situation and see how well they can do. There was one girl two years ago who was such a natural teacher’.

Advice to others using the resource

•   The importance of supporting an open and trusted environment in school

'It's important not to be frightened of what questions and conversations may come from the sessions. It's better for them to have a conversation in a controlled and safe environment where they're going to get the right information and advice. And with such tight ground rules it enables students to ask more questions freely'

Why it works

Evidence shows that the APAUSE programme may have worked because it contains the following aspects:

•    Builds life skills

‘The whole programme is based around communication, listening to people and giving people the right answers. It’s about being able to speak out and talk about things’


‘They get practical skills which are transferrable into other areas of life’

•    Goes beyond an abstinence only approach by making sure that young people know what choices there are and when they can make those choices

•   Gives more than just information by providing a peer-led sessions that get across life skills.

•   Applies across the whole school

'You're engaging with the whole community to support learning. You're supporting the older students to deliver material to the younger ones and hopefully building better relationships across Year groups’.

•   Led by trained individuals: Students and staff are trained by an Apause representative

•   Delivered over time, not a once off

'It's an ongoing process. I know next time I invite the next Year 11's to get involved they will jump at the opportunity. Last time I had 35 students who wanted to get involved and we only needed twenty four.'

•   Involving pupils in design

'Apause is about trying to put sex education into the hands of the student so they have more ownership over it. With peer led education children are more likely to take it on board because it’s being delivered by someone on their level, someone closer to their own age'      


•   Tailored to specific student needs

'Questions will come out from the students because they are given a forum to be able to speak about things; this directs the content of the session'

Apause and individual schools

The programme is shortly to be re-launched (October 2013) with laminated and re-usable classroom resources.  These, in conjunction with the CD supported training, will reduce costs significantly. 

For a more detailed illustration of Apause, its ethos, theory and practice, please visit the website: .


This case-study was published on the Sex Education Forum web-site in December 2013