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Of a possible 26 focus group discussions (two each in 13 schools), 18 were carried out in 10 of the 13.Some focus groups were not undertaken because of difficulties finding time or communication problems in schools.Opportunities to practise putting condoms on demonstrators and information on local sexual health services were offered on all the training courses.

Full details of the study design are given elsewhere (Strange , 2001).

Peer educators in the 14 schools allocated to receive the peer-led programme were recruited from two successive cohorts of students entering Year 12 (aged 16/17 years).

They observed and recorded all the training sessions with peer educators and a sample of the peer-delivered sessions, administered questionnaires prior to programme training and after programme delivery, and facilitated focus group discussions with groups of peer educators in each cohort in each school at the end of the programme.

Peer educators were recruited to the discussions on an basis; the constraints of the school timetable meant that some were excluded from the focus groups because of their academic commitments.

Non-linkage of questionnaires was due to a number of factors, including some young people withdrawing after completing the first questionnaire, others joining the study after this point, some being absent or busy elsewhere in the school on the days questionnaires were administered and problems with linking some ID codes.

One of three researchers (two female and one male) worked with each of the 14 schools.This paper explores some of the issues identified by peer educators as important when implementing a peer education programme in schools, and attempts to contribute to the methodological literature on standards in qualitative research by describing the development of systematic methods for collecting and analysing qualitative data collected in focus group discussions.The paper has four aims: The RIPPLE study is a randomized controlled trial of peer-led sex education, funded by the Medical Research Council, in English secondary schools.brainstorming, role-playing, small group discussion) and lesson plans on one another, and to develop strategies for managing Year 9 students' potential loss of enthusiasm or disruption.Peer educators were encouraged to deal honestly and openly with factual questions, to respect confidentiality, to encourage the articulation of students' implicitly held values, and to use ground rules designed to deter personal comments and questions in their interaction with the target students.In the 13 schools which did mount the peer-led programme, a total of 505 young people volunteered as peer educators and completed pre-programme questionnaires, approximately 463 were subsequently involved in the delivery of sex education sessions and 331 of the 463 (71%) completed post-programme questionnaires.