Friday, 12 February 2016

PSHE and SRE - too important to be a political football

There’s been disappointing news for supporters of statutory personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education and sex and relationships education (SRE) in Parliament this week. Following on from the recommendation in the Education Select Committee’s report on PSHE/SRE to make the subject statutory, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan formally responded and said that statutory status would do little to tackle the most pressing problems with the subject, which are to do with the variable quality of its provision”. We disagree with this analysis – surely putting PSHE/SRE on the same footing as other subjects would help to improve overall standards.

For example, the Sex Education Forum's recent report,
Heads or Tails, emphasised the importance of SRE, with their survey finding that young people were not getting consistent, relevant, and necessary information on topics ranging from exploitation and abuse to consent and places to go for help. If all schools were mandated to teach about these topics, it would help safeguard countless young people.

A debate on Wednesday (10 Feb) in the House of Lords on PSHE education, called by Brook’s President Baroness Massey, showed that there is cross-party support in the upper chamber for the subject, while in a written answer to a question on LGBT-inclusive SRE, Education Minister Edward Timpson said:
We expect schools to ensure that young people feel that SRE education is relevant to them.” Timpson also recommended the SRE Supplementary Advice, issued in 2014 by Brook, the PSHE Association and the Sex Education Forum, in his reply. 

An article on the political background to the SRE debate by journalist Cathy Newman underlined that many senior ministers support statutory PSHE and SRE, but strongly implied that progress is being blocked by the Prime Minister.

The campaign for statutory status will continue, and in the meantime Brook will carry on our vital education work with schools across the country, helping prepare young people for life’s challenges, and giving them the confidence they need to make safer, healthier choices.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Q&A with Helen Marshall

We’re delighted that Helen Marshall will be joining us as our new Chief Executive in April. Helen is currently CEO at Ambition, a leading national youth charity, and has a wealth of experience in the public and private sectors. Read our press release here, and see below for a Q and A. Thanks to Helen for answering our questions!

Helen Marshall, who will join Brook as CEO in April 2016
Hi Helen! Can you tell us a bit more about your work and life to date? How do you think the skills and experience you’ve built up will transfer to your role at Brook?

I’ve been at Ambition for six years, and worked for a housing association in London for 10 years prior to that. I started my working life in the private sector. I have strong leadership skills, expert financial management, like to think creatively about challenges and enjoy busy working environments. I’m known for my organisation and multi-tasking skills!

What attracted you to Brook?

I was attracted by our shared vision of improving opportunities for young people. I’m hugely impressed with Brook’s passion to support young people to make positive and healthy lifestyle choices.

How did you find the selection process? What did you think of the young people’s panel?

Meeting the young people was my favourite part of the assessment day! It was brilliantly organised and very robust.

What are you most looking forward to when you take up the reins at Brook? What do you think your first actions are likely to be?

I’m keen to learn more about the organisation so I can lead the next phase of growth and development. I’m also looking forward to meeting everyone and learning all about this new sector. I plan to focus on next year’s business plan and budget and the development of a new strategic framework to demonstrate the positive impact of our work.

How will you help Brook navigate the challenges that lie ahead due to tightening budgets, cuts to public health funding, and so on?

I will look at new ways of delivering services to new markets, and invest in business development opportunities such as external strategic partnerships, as well as how we can increase our capacity to fundraise effectively. I’m keen that we are able to evidence the impact of all our work to improve outcomes for young people.

Do you have a message for Brook staff, on what your vision for us is and where you’d like to take Brook?

I want to build on the huge amount of fantastic work over the last few years to grow the organisation – hopefully in new and exciting ways! I know Brook has an amazing and committed staff team and I will make sure that we properly invest in staff by recognising and rewarding excellence.

Finally, a bit of fun! Do you have an interesting/unexpected fact about yourself you’d like to share?

I’m addicted to property programmes and my design hero is Kevin McCloud!

Thank you!