Our first project to support a school embedding Sex and Relationships Education into their delivery, Transforming Relationships was funded by Arts Council England and the 4 Together Area Action Partnership. The project was undertaken with Ferryhill Business and Enterprise College and was supported by Jack Drum Arts and the Partnership Development Director of Newcastle University’s Research Centre for Learning and Teaching (CfLaT).
The project aimed to explore ways of addressing concerns held by the senior leadership team about risk-taking behaviour amongst the student population. The Deputy Headteacher Tim Pinkney was particularly keen to see peer learning enshrined in any intervention planned. After negotiations between Changing Relations and the school leadership and wellbeing team, the decision was made to place student leadership at the heart of the project.
A student Steering Group was selected, who highlighted the issues related to sex and relationships that most concerned them. It was clear that the students felt that many of these issues were not currently being addressed within the delivery of the curriculum. From these early discussions, a residential was planned, in which the young people were given the opportunity to explore issues ranging from sexism to sexting, sexual consent, sexual exploitation, homophobia and healthy relationships. Their engagement and learning was supported by the involvement of Barnardo’s, Relate North East, the Rape and Sexual Assault Counselling Centre for Durham and Darlington, DISC, Wear Valley Women’s Aid and Durham Police in addition to Changing Relations. With local artists – including film-maker Rupert Ludlow, animator Sheryl Jenkins and performance poet Chris Robinson – also present, the young people further selected the topic that resonated most with them – sexting – and began the work of creating plot and characters for a film that would be used to stimulate discussion around this topic with their peers at school.
In addition to making the film, the young people were involved in planning, researching and designing a booklet for their peers about who to go to for specific sex and relationships concerns, from coming out, to seeking support in the wake of sexual assault. Alongside Changing Relations’ Managing Director, Lisa Davis, they also planned and co-facilitated an off-timetable Big Learning Day for their peers, meeting each week for several months to pull all of the strands of the project together.
Our project was featured in the Northern Echo and on the CfLaT educational blog, where Rachel Lofthouse details the outcome of her evaluation of the project.
Subsequent funding was secured from the Big Lottery’s Awards for All programme to enable Changing Relations to develop a teacher resource pack to accompany the film and support teachers in planning how best to use the film for a range of different learning objectives. This additional funding enabled Changing Relations to road test the activities featured within the pack with Ferryhill’s young people, as well as testing the pack itself on willing Ferryhill staff.
Whilst this project is now complete, the film and pack are still available to schools who book our Staff Training session, which gives an overview of how to use the pack and includes a taster of the Philosophy for Children classroom discussion methodology. Schools can also book an SRE-focused Peer Educator Programme, based on the model developed with Ferryhill Business and Enterprise College. For more details of each of these, have a look at our current Training, products and services