Reviewing Input of External Visitors – Sutton

In the London Borough of Sutton, the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy Coordinator identified a gap in knowledge about the quality of the input by external visitors supporting SRE in local secondary schools, special schools and pupil referral units (PRUs) and commissioned a review. The review was funded by the PCT and therefore had a particular focus on school nurses and family planning nurses as they contributed to SRE in most secondary schools in the area.

The review was carried out by the acting Healthy Schools coordinator and consisted of interviews with all the school and family planning nurses who delivered SRE and with a senior member of staff responsible for SRE in each school. Both cohorts were asked questions about what they did based on the standards relating to effective PSHE education, as set out in the National PSHE CPD Programme (VT Education and Skills, 2009).

A4: Effective partnerships
Participants will have:
A4.1 Demonstrated how liaison with appropriate professionals was used to ensure effective preparation and teaching of a session, and evaluated how this partnership enhances the impact of aspects of the PSHE programme.
A4.2 Demonstrated sound knowledge of national and local support services for children/young people and given examples of when they have provided this, in the context of, either one-to-one confidential sessions, a referral, or in a group/class setting.
A4.3 Reflected on their personal contribution to local health/PSHE related initiatives such as the National Healthy Schools Programme, or to a professional team that is developing policy/practice relating to the health and well-being of children and young people.
A4.4 Engaged with a professional network of support to enhance their knowledge and skills in PSHE and critically reflected on the positive impact this has had on their practice.
A4.5 Demonstrated where they believe their practice has impacted positively on an individual child/young person and reflected on their personal contribution to this.

The majority of schools confirmed that they really valued the input by the nurses and the unique contribution they could make to SRE. Some schools also noted that their use of external visitors was based on historical arrangements, rather than on specifically identified need, and that there was little or no dialogue with the visitor prior to the sessions about resources and assessment of learning. The nurses identified similar issues for improvement by schools and, in particular, raised the issue of training.

The interview process itself helped clarify the responsibilities that schools had in the planning, preparation and follow-up from any input by external agencies.

During the review period, local members of the Sutton Youth Parliament Group surveyed almost 500 pupils in Sutton secondary schools about SRE. The survey found that young people wanted specialist teams to deliver SRE - and noted the lack of male external visitors inputting to SRE. The acting Healthy Schools coordinator and the Youth Parliament presented their findings and recommendations together to the Sutton Children and Young People's Partnership Board.

Outcomes from the review include:
• commitment by schools to increase the involvement of young people in the development of their SRE provision
• plans to update the local protocols for working with external agencies
• a shared expectation that there must be more joint planning prior to external visitor input
• a commitment to enabling all school nurses and/or family planning nurses to have completed a relevant CPD programme prior to, or during, their input into schools
• a commitment by schools to include the input by external visitors within their evaluation of SRE
• plans to revisit the same schools in the future to measure change in practice, and impact.

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