Multi-Agency Partnerships in Wirral

Brook in Wirral has worked proactively with work-based learning providers for several years. They keep providers updated with the outreach programmes and they offer and maintain an up-to-date list of local learning providers. By establishing good relationships with providers, Brook is able to offer bespoke educational programmes ranging from one-off sexual health sessions as part of induction to an OCN Level 1 accredited course, which has been developed by Brook Wirral called 'All different, All beautiful'. The case studies below describe the partnership between Brook and two learning providers both based in Birkenhead - a deprived area with a high rate of teenage conception.

The Maritime and Engineering College North West is an independent learning provider offering Foundation Learning, pre-Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship programmes for young people aged 16-18. A session on sexual health is included in learner induction. The session is delivered by Brook outreach workers and there is time afterwards to talk to staff one to one. The college values the expert input from Brook staff, whom they describe as well-informed, approachable and skilled in engaging young people. Female learners are in the minority at the college so young women are asked if they would like a female learning support officer to stay in the session. Brook services are clearly publicised around the college and if learners want to speak to Brook staff on another day, the learning support officers arrange this.

Staff at the college have all received training on safeguarding and some have received training from Connexions on personal and social issues. The college recognises that if learners are happy in their lives they have more chance of concentrating on their learning. Personal and social issues impact on learners and on the business - so addressing these issues is an integral part of the provider's programme. Ideally, the college would like to embed sexual health and other personal and social issues further into their programme so that topics could be revisited periodically during the two to three years of the Apprenticeship programmes.

Morthyng College is a charitable organisation offering Foundation Learning to young people aged 16-18 years. Courses last approximately 22 weeks. The first six weeks is the initial assessment phase and all learners have a tutor-led session on sexual health during this period. Activities such as quizzes, puzzles and discussions help to establish knowledge levels and a record is made for each learner. Following the assessment phase, some learners are put forward for a more intensive sexual health programme delivered by Brook staff. Tutors identify young people who scored low in the assessment session and those they believe will benefit from developing their confidence and self-esteem.

Participation is optional and most young people take up the offer. The intensive programme runs for one day per week for six weeks. It is based on the Brook Wirral 'All different, all beautiful' accredited programme, and covers equality, diversity and self-esteem, together with sexual health and relationships themes. Tutors notice changes in young people following the programme, such as increased confidence and social skills and developing new friendships with peers. Tutors at the college would welcome the extension of the programme to more young people and are also keen to attend training to support their own professional development in the future.

For more information contact:
Kai Wooder, education manager, Brook Wirral

More case studies on this theme can be found in the Sex Education Forum briefing Foundation Learning and Apprenticeships  (2010).