As Romany points out, 'Moroccan girls, for example, are not going to hear anything about sex at home so it's important for them to learn it at school.' Where there are significant numbers of Islamic students boys and girls may have these lessons separately, but in general those who deal with sex education are trained to use mixed classes positively.'In our sessions the boys drew up a list of what they didn't know about girls and vice versa,' Ivo told me.Young people do have sex on vacation so the show gives explicit advice about everything, including how to use a condom.We thought there would be noises about that but in fact nearly 200 schools have written in asking for a copy of the video.' Since its first public funding in 1969 the foundation has tried to fashion its projects around the realities of young people's lives. Tamara, aged 15, and Maryn, a boy of 16, are both sexually active but they tell their parents what they're up to and, with disarming candour, willingly talk about relationships, contraception and sexual technique.Each has grown up in a family in which sex is discussed without spluttering and blushes.


To make us think it wasn't anything special or scary.' Such is the framework of trust established by these lessons that Ivo says he was able to talk about his homosexuality in front of his classmates. It was a big step to tell them but I'm not ashamed and now they are not so negative - they want to ask me questions about it.' When I asked what was the real age of consent in the Netherlands, neither Ivo nor the others had an answer.

Knowing, for example, that one of the side-effects of taking Ecstasy is a craving for sex, it now hires dancers who go to rave parties with supplies of condoms, which they hand out.

When it was suggested that boys were often left out of informal sex education it responded by funding a group of boys to produce their own magazine about sex and sexual attitudes.

'I don't think there is a pressure on you to have sex.

What we are told is that we must make the decisions for our own lives. Plenty of the girls in my class haven't had sex yet, but it's not like a competition.' No school is obliged to include sex education in its curriculum in the Netherlands, but most of them do.

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