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NSW Department of Education and Communities

Curriculum support for NSW Public Schools

What are some of the tricky questions?

Children are naturally curious about growth and development issues and therefore will ask inquisitive questions for differing reasons. Many teachers express concern that they may be asked a tricky question when teaching about sexuality and worry they will not have the experience to deal with it. Teachers are more than capable of rephrasing, redirecting and accurately answering student questions on any topic. Having a good working knowledge around the topic equips any teacher with the background to answer part or all of the question. If the teacher is unsure of the answer to a student’s question, take the question on notice, find out the answer and come back to it at another time. Teachers should be confident that they will have more knowledge about the topic than their students.

A good strategy to use to have time to prepare for a response to students’ questions is to have a question box. This also assists students who are too shy or uncomfortable to ask questions in front of their peers.

It is important to manage a tricky question well the first time it occurs. This sends a message to students that you are not easily embarrassed and are firmly in control of the discussion. Confidently tell the students that it is alright to ask questions and that all questions will be treated seriously. Refer students to the class ground rules. Emphasise that it is important to respect the ideas of others and not to laugh or ridicule other students when asking questions. Remind students that it is their responsibility to ask serious questions.

In general, when answering questions, the following suggestions are offered.

  • Appear confident and not easily embarrassed.
  • Restate the question, using correct terminology if inappropriate terminology is used. Teachers should avoid chastising students for using street terminology for body parts in the first few lessons. This may be their way of being understood. Calmly give the correct terminology and ask students to use it as well.
  • Be honest and use simple language.
  • Answer questions clearly. Sometimes a student may ask a question in one way when they really mean something else. Look for signs that the student is not satisfied with the answer and offer a broader response. Check for understanding, ask “Does that answer your question?” or “Is that what you wanted to know?”.
  • Do not answer personal questions. The teacher’s response to this may be “That is a personal question and I can’t answer that. Remember our agreement about personal questions?”

Use the normal range of classroom management techniques to manage disruptive classroom situations. As with any topic, a small number of students may choose to seek attention by asking inappropriate questions designed to disrupt the class. Students may need to be reminded that their right to be respected and speak freely is also accompanied by the responsibility to be respectful of others.

Students, parents and teachers may have questions regarding the teaching of sexuality. Below are links to some of the more frequently asked questions with structured responses that may be of assistance to teachers when answering questions about sexuality.


Sample student FAQs 


Sample teacher FAQs Sample parent FAQs  
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