Kerry Cabbin Director of Tough Cookies Education said; ‘Ever since the Tough Cookies Education launched four years ago, we have helped thousands of young people to keep safe, healthy and happy.
‘As we begin our fourth year we will host our first SRE conference in Manchester, we are very excited about this and look forward to seeing lots of people from the organisations we have worked with over the past four years.
Monday 4th February marks four years since Tough Cookies began, which started with a small grant from the Greater Manchester, Police and Crime Commissioner’s Youth Aspiration Fund.
‘We had been working since 2011 under the name creAteam, (a creative team – tackling youth issues) with a team of ten youth workers with specialist skills in art, music, MCing. We were delivering group work with hard to reach groups, tackling youth-related issues in a creative way using graffiti, lyric writing, film making and photography. We worked closely with local partners such as Media Trust and FC United of Manchester where we carried out a youth exchange to Germany and we had some funding from the Home Office which was part of the ending violence against women and girls programme. But we were often looked at as an arts company and not recognised for the youth work or SRE related work that we were doing and so a change of identity was needed.
‘In 2015, after four years of creAteam, we became Tough Cookies Education, the new name representing the confidence, resilience and empowerment of young people.
‘Our first project was to deliver a programme of SRE in schools. Learning from the Coffey Report; Real Voices, 2014, The main aim of the programme was to raise awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) covering aspects including healthy relationships and online safety. Enabling children and young people to explore what makes a safe and healthy relationship and helping young people to develop the awareness and skills to negotiate potential risks, stay safe and seek help if they need it. Young people who took part in our workshops contributed to the follow-up report; Real Voices, Are they being heard, 2017.
A report completed by Tough Cookies Education showed that the majority of the young people they worked with as part of this project had not been involved in any discussions or learning about consent and appropriate or inappropriate sexual behaviour prior to the SRE workshop.
Only 52% of young people said they understood the meaning of consent before taking part in the workshops. This rose to 97% after engagement in the Tough Cookies workshop. Young people’s prior learning, attitudes and opinions about this topic was often through TV, media and online. The workshops also raised awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation, 49% of young people stated they know what Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) means before taking part in any learning, rising to 95% after the workshop.
Following on from this project, Tough Cookies were commissioned to continue the work. They worked with another 14 schools in the second year and also delivered the workshops across a local college working with every student across all course subjects. Reaching over 2500 young people.
99% of young people (938 completed surveys) said; they now had a better understanding of what consent means in post-workshop questionnaire’s. Only 53% said they knew what consent meant before attending the workshop. Year 7 and 8 pupils, only 2% of young people said they knew what consent meant pre-lesson (6 out of 312 pupils) This rose to 100% post-workshop.
The young people also fed back: they felt more confident, know their rights and responsibilities, aware of peer pressure and have skills to tackle this and recognise how they respond to being told No.
In 2017 Tough Cookies were then commissioned to take on their biggest project. Tasked with the job of writing a whole new sex and relationships education resource for schools. ‘We worked for the most of 2017 writing this, and are very proud of the results. The resource is now being used in around 80 schools and we are now working to deliver a programme of training for teachers, giving them the confidence to teach SRE.
In 2017, we also started to work with The Big Life Project Company, a tech organisation that has created a forward-thinking online platform for PSHE. We write their SRE content and are excited to see how they grow.
With SRE becoming compulsory from 2020, we predict the work delivered by Tough Cookies will get busier and busier.
‘Last year much of our work focused on training for teachers and supporting schools to plan their SRE programmes and resources. And so we are keen to get back in the classroom and in communities. We have had a great start to 2019, working in lots of schools across the country with lots more bookings coming up.
‘We are set to move offices soon, heading to Media City from Tameside, so that will be exciting for us. And we are also looking at developing our own resources and games. We have ideas for what we want and need in the classroom to help make our workshops better but often what we are looking for doesn’t exist. We are keen to work with animators to create short clips that we can use for SRE’.