Article Text

Download PDFPDF

  1. Susan Quilliam1,
  2. Martha A Smith2
  1. 1Writer, Broadcaster, Consultant and Trainer, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2Medical Student, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to Ms Susan Quilliam; susan{at};

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Who are you?

Sexpression:UK is a student organisation delivering sex and relationship education (SRE) to young people in the community. It is run by volunteer students at universities across the UK.

We facilitate sessions covering a wide variety of issues surrounding sex and relationships, including bodily changes; sexually transmitted infections (STIs), contraception and safer sex; relationships; sexual orientation and gender identity; sex and the media; and consent and abuse.

Why is your organisation needed?

Young people are entitled to, and want to, receive information about sex and relationships that is reliable and relevant. However, much of the sex education young people receive in schools focuses on the ‘biology’ of sex and is inconsistently delivered by non-specialist teachers who have not had access to good training on how to deliver SRE. Currently, sex education is failing to prepare young people.

What are your aims?

Our mission is to deliver informal and comprehensive SRE aiming to empower young people to make informed decisions about their bodies and their health.

We believe young people should have access to high-quality information about sex, sexuality and sexual health; that SRE should move away from a purely biological focus and broaden its scope to include issues relevant to young people today; and that sex education should be delivered in the wider context of relationships, sexuality and emotional well-being.

By discussing sex openly and positively, without embarrassment and without stigma, Sexpression:UK aims to deliver consistent, positive teaching in a way that is accessible. We also aim to make our sessions inclusive and relevant to all young people regardless of gender, sexuality, culture, disability or previous experiences.

We further believe that SRE should be compulsory in schools and taught as part of a national curriculum, supporting good SRE being delivered to all young people through better teacher training and resource provision for schools.

Our ultimate aim is for a society in which young people are able to access reliable information about relationships, sex and sexuality; where they are free from STIs and unwanted pregnancy; and where they are empowered to make individual, informed decisions regarding their bodies, their health and their relationships.

Who do you reach, and how?

We run sessions in primary schools, secondary schools, colleges and youth clubs across the UK, reaching young people from a range of backgrounds and experiences. There are currently 25 Sexpression:UK branches across the UK, and in the 2014/2015 academic year we taught 9299 young people over a total of 405 workshops.

We deliver through facilitated teaching sessions and open discussions. The smaller age difference between young people and university students compared to parents and teachers means near-peer teaching encourages young people to participate without embarrassment.

Our website ( provides free, reliable information for young people, parents and teachers with links to further external sources of information about sex and relationships.

How are you organised and funded?

We are supported by our Board of Trustees. The National Committee, made up of student Sexpression:UK members, is elected by Sexpression:UK members at our annual Sexpression:UK National Conference.

We do not charge for delivering sessions; instead we are funded through our sponsors, Durex and WebMedPharmacy.

The future

Sexpression:UK will continue to deliver SRE to young people, to expand our branches to increase our impact, and to campaign for compulsory SRE in schools. We are committed to helping even more young people be empowered about their sexual health.

Further information

Who:    Sexpression:UK




  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Editor’s note This article is one in a series of occasional articles on key health organisations worldwide. The Journal would be pleased to hear from other organisations, particularly those based outside the UK, which would like to be similarly profiled.

Linked Articles

  • Highlights from this issue
    British Medical Journal Publishing Group