Dual Focus on Teacher & Parent Competence Developed by Local Authority & PCT with Support from National Agencies

In Cornwall, the local authority and PCT have developed a dual focus on building the skills of teachers and parents for SRE; and are utilising the expertise of their staff team as 'external visitors' to support schools to achieve this. Working closely with the Healthy Schools Team, a Speakeasy development worker (employed by the PCT) and an SRE advisor (employed by the local authority) are engaging with primary and secondary schools across the area. Expertise from two national agencies - the fpa Speakeasy programme and the Christopher Winter Project - has been accessed locally and nurtured to create a sustainable central resource to cascade training on an ongoing basis.

The Speakeasy programme is based on a model of cascading training in order to reach as many parents as possible. The Speakeasy development worker and a member of the Healthy Schools Team are qualified to train Speakeasy facilitators. They have trained over 40 new facilitators in the last year, including teaching assistants, learning mentors, parent support advisors and parents. Currently, more than 20 Speakeasy courses are running in schools in Cornwall led by these facilitators.

The role of the development worker has involved relationship-building with schools, for example through attending governors and staff meetings to explain the programme. However, once one group of parents in the school has done the programme they often become agents for change, encouraging other parents to take part, themselves training to be facilitators and also informing the school about what they think needs to be included in the SRE curriculum. In some schools the Speakeasy programme continues selfsustained, with parent-facilitators running the course on a voluntary basis, with resources and support provided by the development worker.

Cornwall Healthy Schools Team also funded an intensive training input for their staff from the Christopher Winter Project (CWP). The trainer focused on the ideology of the CWP three-part on-the-job teacher-training model, which comprises SRE modelling, co-teaching and observation. The trainer supported the Cornwall SRE advisor, while the advisor was actually doing the job of delivering the CWP in three schools. The SRE advisor is now rolling out the CWP to schools across the area. After an initial meeting the advisor supports the teacher over three lessons - followed by reflection and evaluation time after each lesson. The SRE advisor explains that the problem has not been that teachers lacked the knowledge and skills - rather the confidence to deliver SRE without embarrassment. By offering training, which takes place in work time, on the job, it has been more possible to work with teachers.

Recognising that in many ways teachers and parents have a similar need for increased confidence in talking about sex and relationships, the SRE advisor and Speakeasy development worker have created a training day for teachers called Speak It Teach It. This one-day training has been run as an INSET day and gives teachers and teaching assistants an opportunity to explore sex and relationships issues using similar techniques to Speakeasy. This experience equips staff with a better understanding of the benefits of Speakeasy for parents and creates a good platform for further capacity-building work with teachers.

Key features
• As external visitors from statutory agencies, the SRE advisor and Speakeasy development worker are able to support schools with their expertise and resources.
• Accessing training from national agencies has expanded the skills of local external visitors.
• The dual focus, on developing parents' and teachers' skills, has generated dialogue between parents and schools about SRE and is leading to sustained improvements in SRE for children and young people.
• Support from the Healthy Schools Team, and partnership across the local authority and PCT, have been fundamental.

More information on this theme can be found in the the Sex Education Forum resource 'External visitors and sex and relationships education'.