We know more about relationships now than we knew before 

A collaboration with pupils and staff at St Vincent's school and funded by Children in Need Janette Porter and Kay Standing from Sociology, supported by LJMU placement students

St Vincent’s is a specialist school for sensory impairment and other needs based in Liverpool.  

Working with 37 young people aged 11-19 the project used creative workshops and was fully accessible using braille, multimedia, audio, scribes and readers. The workshops focused on how to identifying early warning signs in unhealthy relationships in unhealthy relationships. By encouraging the pupils to speak openly in the group and acting out scenarios where the knowledge that they have learned in the project come to life.  

Building relationships of trust, and through creative workshops enabled the pupils to gain the confidence to express themselves in front of their peers by drama and role play. 

Relationship education became statutory in secondary schools in September 2020, but prior to  the focus of PHSE/RES in school was mainly on sex education. The project was important because research shows young people age 16-24 are most at risk of violence in a relationship. More than one in five young people with disabilities between the ages of 12 and 19 reports experiencing violence more than twice the rate of those  without a disability People of all ages with disabilities are more likely to face violence from an intimate partner. 

The project made 3 key differences, 1) increasing young people’s confidence, 2) having a better understanding of healthy relationships and  3)enabling them to access help and support for themselves and/or their peers should they need it. Additionally staff noted that they had a better understanding of how to help and understand young people and that the young people didn’t understand there were different sorts of relationships, I think before the project they didn’t even understand there were different sorts of relationships, especially the younger ones, I’ve heard them speaking in the corridor about boyfriends and girlfriends and that you can still have a boy as your friend, he doesn’t have to be your boyfriend. Pupils commented that : they know more about relationships now than they knew before the project.  Demonstrating that the topic of relationships was no longer a taboo subject in school.  

Parent’s and carers  also requested information on relationship abuse so they could support their children out of school and specifically on sexting which remains a gap in relationship education

The Education resource pack will be launched later this year.

To watch or read more about Porter and Standings research see below 



For more information contact Janette Porter j.porter1@ljmu.ac.uk 

This project was supported by a student from the LJMU funded Career Accelerator Internship Programme and students from Sociology and Criminology on the Work Based Learning Module  


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