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BBC Children in Need

Healthy Relationships Project

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Healthy Relationships Project in Special Educational Needs Schools: A pilot study in  collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University and St Vincent’s School, funded by Children in Need


About the project:


This project will deliver arts and drama sessions focusing on healthy relationships for pupils with sensory impairments and other needs in Key Stages 3 and 4. It aims to increase confidence, and give pupils a better understanding of healthy relationships and access to advice and support.

The project aims to make three differences to the participants:

Difference 1: The biggest difference the project aims to makes is increasing children’s confidence. By building relationships of trust, creative workshops enable children to gain the confidence to express themselves in front of their peers.

Difference 2: Pupils will have a better understanding of healthy relationships. They will recognise the early warning signs of abuse and have the knowledge to make a difference to the choices they make about relationships. They will learn that positive and affirming relationships are based on equality and respect.

Difference 3: Pupils will receive signposting to support agencies in accessible formats enabling them to access help and support for themselves and/or their peers should they need it.


How we aim to work with St Vincent's:


In collaboration with pupils and staff at St Vincent's we will co-produce and  deliver workshops on healthy relationships,. We will also work with you to evaluate the project so you can see the impact it has had on the participants


Term one will introduce the project and, with support from school staff, pupils will  plan, produce material for the workshops in a variety of accessible formats e.g. Braille, audio and multimedia, and pilot a session with a small group of pupils in lunch time or after school. This will enable us to assess initial knowledge and meet the complex needs of the group. Pupils co-design an evaluation to assess the impact of the project on the knowledge of the participants.


Term two:  we will deliver ability and age appropriate workshops on healthy relations after school/ lunchtime. Activities include art, drama, role-play, art, poetry, song, using multimedia and audio, to enable pupils to recognise the early warning signs of abuse in a relationship and where to access help and support.


Term three: at the end of the workshops pupils will co-produce an activity or presentation which they share with their peer. This may be a performance, film, or artwork. We will evaluate the evaluation and provide feedback.


We aim to work with all pupils in KS3 & 4.  The project will run off curriculum and be offered to partner school’s pupils who have visual impairments and other needs. Workshop facilitators will enable the pupils to access the material they have co-developed.


The need for the healthy relationship project at school

Relationship education is not currently statutory in schools however it is needed because:

  • Age 16-24 is the age group that is most at risk of violence in a relationship

  • 1 in 5 teenagers in England and Wales have been physically abused by their partners

  • 33% of teenagers that are involved in a violent relationship talk to someone about it

  • 2 women  week are murdered by their former or ex-partner each week in the UK

  • 85% of all murders of domestic violence or women in the UK

  • People with disabilities are more likely to experience violence and abuse than non-disabled people.

  • More than one in five young people with disabilities between the ages of 12 and 19 report experiencing violence (including physical abuse, rape or sexual assault from a stranger or partner) - more than twice the rate of young people without a disability.

  • People of all ages with disabilities are more likely to face violence from an intimate partner.

  • Women and girls with any type of disability, as well as people with a cognitive disability, face the highest rates of violence. [Higgins, 2010, Tender 2014 ONS, 215 Home office 2011 British Crime Survey 2010 National Institute of health and care excellence 2014 Higgins, 2010]


Project team:


The project will be delivered by Janette Porter with support from LJMU students.


Janette Porter has a PGCE and is an experienced workshop facilitator who has worked with all abilities  in both formal and non-formal educational settings for over 30 years. She was the Tender Healthy Relationship project coordinator and facilitator at  LJMU 2012-2019. She delivered the Tender project to St Vincent’s school in 2015. For more details.


Dr Kay Standing is Reader in Gender Studies and is the co-project manager for the Children in Need project. She has worked in the field of gender and education for over 20 years and project managed Tender healthy relationships project. See link for recent article Porter Standing on Healthy Relationships


Contact Details:  Janette Porter:  Liverpool John Moores University, Humanities and Social Science, John Foster Building, 80-98 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool, L3 5UZ email:

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