A sexual health drop-in clinic opened at a Kirkcaldy school several years ago is leading the way for other Fife schools to follow.
And the service, which offers free condoms along with relationship advice and pregnancy testing, was praised by Michael Matheson, Scottish health minister, when he visited the school, which is in the running for a COSLA excellence award, last week.
During his visit Mr Matheson heard that the clinic had helped to cut the high rate of teen pregnancies in the Kirkcaldy High School catchment area.
Statistics showed that from a total of 14.2 pregnancies among girls under 16 per thousand in 2010 the figure had reduced to 8.6 last year.
Dr Lorna Watson explained the NHS’ role in supporting the school, while Val Reid, the school nurse and Derek Allan, rector (pictured inset), explained how the service was set up to take a pro-active approach to the issue and was based on consultation with young people, while keeping parents informed throughout the process.
“Kids are reluctant to use adult services, they feel a bit stigmatised.
‘‘Making sexual health a mainstream issue in the school is important, and it is all honest, open and above board,” he said.
“All evidence is that frankness is key.
‘‘Being informed delays the onset of sexual behaviour – it does not encourage it.”
There was also a redesign of sex education within the school, making it more specific, relevant and based on pupil expressed need, with small groups and single gender lessons supported by the school nurses.
Four KHS pupils contributed to the discussion in a mature and insightful manner, giving their views on the success of the clinics, while guidance teachers Helen Houston and Cath Ritchie spoke about the partnership arrangement and how it worked.
The clinic, run by the school nurse, is held weekly on Friday lunchtimes, and offers a wide range of relationship counselling, contraception and pregnancy testing as well as support to attend specialist clinics if required. It is very well attended.
Carrie Lindsay, area education officer with Fife Council, said that the local authority is rolling out this kind of provision to other secondary schools around Fife.