Have your say in the consultation on statutory Relationships Education – ensure RSE meets pupils’ needs

I would like you to cast your mind back to the year 2000. The UK fuel protests took place, with refineries blockaded, and supply to the country’s network of petrol stations halted. The new Millennium Bridge and London Eye opened, and the UK was hit by one of the worst snow storms in the last 50 years. At the cinema we were watching Billy Eliot and Erin Brockovich. And we were all jolly chuffed that the millennium bug hadn’t brought the whole world to a standstill. The Daily Mail was reporting that sales of the much-hyped WAP phones, which allow users to access the internet on their handsets, had flopped – after all who would want to access the internet on their phone? Phones are for calling people, and sending little messages, oh yes and playing that game were you chase the snake around the screen.

Then in July 2000 the current guidance for schools on sex and relationships education was published. I’m sorry – did I read that right?  The current guidance for schools to deliver a massively important curriculum area was published 17 years ago?

Hard to believe but true. The guidance that schools have been using to shape policy and practice was published 4 years before Facebook was launched, 5 years before civil partnerships in England became legal, and 7 years before the iphone brought the computational power of the first moon landings into our pockets. How then can this guidance be relevant and appropriate and enable schools to meet the needs of pupils growing up in 2018. The truth is it can’t be, and thankfully this is finally being addressed. In 2019 secondary schools will be required to teach Sex and relationships education, and primary schools – relationships education, and a consultation has been launched to determine what that actually should comprise.

We believe high quality RSE is integral to safeguarding and as such is an entitlement for all. How can you really claim to safeguard children if they don’t understand ‘healthy relationships’, are not able to correctly name their body parts including their genitalia, understand consent, or realise the risks and consequences of sexting or their digital footprint. Children and young people from all communities and parts of the country are faced with sexualised images in the media and in popular culture. They need the understanding and skills to navigate their way through to ensure they enjoy positive and healthy and respectful relationships of all kinds. High quality and relevant RSE is one means of enabling this.

We encourage as many people as possible to take part in this consultation. To access please visit


Just think if we don’t update this one till 2034 what lives will our young people be living then?

The Daily Mail also reported that leading economists were providing fresh evidence that the economy is running out of steam – so somethings never change.



Top tips for growing up in the digital world

Many young people may have taken their first steps into the online world of messaging or social media after receiving a new device for Christmas.  This is an exciting time, but one that can also bring unhappiness, bullying and possible exploitation if the young person is not aware or prepared for the choices they may have to make.

What we have to make sure is that all young people understand that real life lessons apply.  What is not right in the school playground or in the street, is still not right in the digital world.  Young people need to remember to not give out personal information or send images.  Both these sorts of behaviours can aid others in bullying or grooming the people identified.

What is now available to young people through the internet and connectivity is an eye on the world that will show all its beauty and wonder as well as its darker sides.    Young people need to be confident they can cope with what’s available.   They need to have the resilience to resist temptation, and the understanding about making good choices.  The need to conform to expectations is very powerful, but just because it is on line it is not always true or what is actually happening in that person’s real life.

It is not just Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Yellow to name a few that pose opportunities and dangers, it is also online gaming that opens up a world outside of the child’s house.

Top tips

Try to:

  • Talk to your child about their digital use
  • Be aware of the types of things they do online and who they are ‘talking to’ online
  • Limit screen time and encourage or make them be online in a family shared space
  • Make sure parental controls are enabled and that where possible children are using the children’s version of the app, to try and help protect them from unsuitable content
  • Be aware of age limits for content, games, social media and other digital content
  • Talk about healthy relationships, positive body image, bullying as well as online shopping.


Niall Crawford is an education adviser with Services for Education specialising in safeguarding, e-safety and CSE.

Ciaran O’Donnell, Head of Service for Music at Services for Education is overjoyed with new research but worried about the future.

First the good news…..

Let’s start the year with a spring in our step, a song in our heart – and with something that is music to my ears.

Research shows that more children in the UK are now learning to play a musical instrument for the first time – and today’s secondary school children are more likely to learn an instrument than their parents or grandparents at the same age.

As someone who believes that the benefits of learning to play music go well beyond the ability to play an instrument itself, I am really heartened by two studies that have recently come out of Birmingham.

First, research by Birmingham’s Town Hall Symphony Hall shows that two thirds of 11 – 16 year olds have learnt or are learning an instrument – compared with 61% of the generations before them.

There’s good news for the West Midlands as well. Outside London, the region is the UK’s “most musical group” where 3% of children can play the Cello and where you are most likely to find a Bassoonist, Oboist or Organist.

Hot on the heels of that research, Birmingham City University conducted a nationwide online survey and interviews with music education leaders discovering that almost 460,000 schoolchildren learnt how to play a musical instrument for the first time in the 2015/16 academic year. The majority of musical learning takes place in Key Stage 2 of primary school and Key Stage 3 of secondary school.

Clearly, we are doing something right.

There is no doubt that Music Services and Music Education Hubs have been hugely successful at increasing access and participation.

Here in Birmingham, Services For Education, a charity that does so much for young people, has been quite literally playing its part. Since we became a stand-alone charity in 2012, we have helped more than 60,000 children to pick up an instrument and learn to play over that 5 year period.

But before I get carried away, there has to be a touch of reality. We now regularly teach 18,000 intermediate to advanced instrumentalists…so what has happened to the rest?

Starting to learn to play is one thing but we must also ensure that we have progression to enable our young musicians to fulfil all their potential. The evidence seems to point to a pyramid where the base of early learners is increasingly wide but the top is increasingly thin as fewer and fewer children progress.

I have still got the spring in my step but ensuring that more children can learn to play music for longer is not going to be a sprint – but a marathon. It’s up to all of us who have benefited from music education to make sure that we do more in the future.

Further speakers announced for Primary and Early Years leadership conference

The most prestigious gathering of education speakers for the annual Primary & Early Years Leadership Conference has been announced.

Over two days (16 – 17 November) delegates at the conference – now in its sixth year – will hear from eight headline speakers including the highly sought-after and respected education commentator and author Sir John Jones; Colin Diamond CBE, Corporate Director of Children and Young People at Birmingham City Council; Dame Kathy August, Independent Development Advisor, as well as keynote speaker, Associate of Independent Thinking Limited, David Cameron.

Other headline speakers include Nina Jackson, Associate of Independent Thinking Limited; James Nottingham, Educational Leader and founding director of Challenging Learning; Kate Cooper, Head of Research, Policy and Standards at the Institute of Leadership and Management and Maggi Rose, Senior Facilitator and Project Lead at Mental Health at Work.

Those already registered for the S4E 2017 Primary & Early Years Leadership Conference at Hinckley, Leicestershire, include head teachers, principals, vice-principals, heads of school, deputy head teachers, assistant head teachers, governors and a number of teachers with lead responsibility for Special Educational Needs and Assessment.

The Primary & Early Years Leadership Conference is organised by not-for-profit charity Services for Education and provides an excellent opportunity for personal development and CPD.

“This will be our most notable conference to date and we are delighted with the impressive range of speakers that we have attracted,” said Andrew Cooper, Head of School Support Service at Services for Education.

“As a two day event, it gives senior leadership teams an opportunity to learn from some of the country’s leading educationalists, reflect on how their views can be utilised in their schools – and exchange best practice with their peers from around the country.”

For more information or to book a place, click here or email conference@servicesforeducation.co.uk

Commando Joe’s comes to Brum!

Commando Joe

Services for Education are delighted to be partnering with Commando Joe’s to help bring their highly successful and effective programme to primary schools in Birmingham and the West Midlands.

Commando Joe’s was formed in 2009 and since then has worked with over 1000 schools across the country to build the resilience of pupils through programmes of life skills and character education. A 2015 evaluation report by Swansea University found that the Commando Joe’s intervention as a whole-school strategy enhanced educational and behavioural outcomes.

To enable more schools to benefit from the CJ approaches, a school-led package has been introduced providing a toolkit to support and promote SMSC , British values, health and wellbeing, teamwork and leadership, PSHE and even holiday clubs.

The goal is to engage even the most reluctant learners, so all of the packages include a Top Secret box packed with cross-curricular resources, amazing video hooks for every module, homework sheets and curriculum overviews for teachers and other staff to deliver as part of school curriculum or in lunchtime/after-school clubs, and an innovative online pupil tracker to help pupils mark and celebrate their achievements.

For those schools which sign up to the Essential or Team packages, an Elite Commando will visit your school to train and support staff to effectively implement the programme to best suit you needs.

Leaving no child left behind, Commando Joe inspires pupils to rise to the challenge, strive for excellence and develop resilience, empathy and passion for learning.

Come and find out more at our free briefing session on November 30th at Holt Court.

Click here here to book your place.

Find out more at www.commandojoes.co.uk

Mental Health in the Workplace – A free introductory session

28th September 2017

8.00 – 9.30am  Services for Education, Holt Court, Aston Science Park

An introductory briefing for Headteachers and Senior Leaders

  • Do you feel confident and equipped to talk about mental health with your staff?
  • Do you want to create a climate where mental illness is destigmatised?
  • Do you want your school to be organisation that understands, manages and promotes mental health as an integral part of working life?

We all talk about physical health. Every half marathon is celebrated, and how a cough won’t shift is discussed at length.  However some subjects are not discussed and they usually involve our minds.

Mental health is a key determinant of the workplace environment as it affects employee retention and team relationships, and every year mental health issues will affect around one in four of us.

Teaching is considered to be one of the most stressful professions to work in in the UK

  • 6 in 10 teachers say their job has impacted on their mental health in the last 12months
  • 1 in 10 teachers say they have been prescribed  anti-depressant drugs to cope with the pressure of their job (NASUWT)
  • 88% of all staff working in education have suffered from stress (Education Support Partnership)

And all of this can be compounded by

61% of employers respond reactively rather than proactively to mental ill health

 “The only way to deal with mental health issues is to normalise it……and to have these conversations in the workplace” Dr Michael Holland – South London and Maudsley NHS

Services for Education is pleased to be working in partnership with Mental Health at Work to deliver practical and skills based mental health training.

This 90 minute introduction will present an outline of what is covered in the full training, details of whole school follow up sessions and describe a delivery model suitable for MATs, School Consortia, Teaching Alliances as well as individual schools.

The full training will equip senior leaders to have conversations about mental health, reduce stigma by increasing awareness, understand and comply with the Equality Act 2010.

Schools that have already had the full training:

  • ‘A fantastic day that will kickstart a focus on this for whole school development.’
  • ‘Very thought-provoking – Thank you!’
  • ‘Excellent presentation’
  • 100% would recommend the course to others.

Click below to book your free place