How to develop a programme of learning

How to develop a programme of learning for children and young people:

Activities for children and young people need to be part of a comprehensive prevention programme that operates across the whole organisation. It is important that the messages from the activities are reinforced by staff, policies and actions across the organisation.

There are many ways for children and young people to learn about Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG). It can be delivered within PSHE, Geography, Art, PE, RE, English, History, in fact all subjects can link to VAWG and gender equality. Youth centres and Pupil Referral Units can also offer great opportunities to deliver a long term course that develops content. Out of school locations mean that sessions can be off the education curriculum and really start to explore issues and develop learning outcomes.

More information can be found on the creating a comprehensive curriculum page.

The AVA TOOLKIT. Curriculum review tool shows ways to link across the Secondary curriculum in subject areas from Maths, Science, Geography and English.

You can find loads of useful resources and activities in our resource database.

Learning outcomes:

  • AWARENESS: To increase knowledge of Violence Against Women and Girls, including a shared understanding of the experiences of girls and young women
  • ATTITUDES: To start to change attitudes that normalise and condone Violence Against Women and Girls.
  • ACTIONS: To build the skills to recognise and start to challenge Violence Against Women and Girls.

Top Tips to develop a relevant programme that meets the groups needs:

  1. Understand the group’s needs through thinking about their attitudes to gender, sex, relationships and violence, and doing some research into local statistics on occurrences of violence against women and girls. You can adapt the training needs analysis tool to be used with children and young people.
  2. Understand the local area that you are working in, this will help you to create a curriculum that responds to the experiences of people in the area. Also, you need to think about any potential risks to delivering the curriculum. For example, is there a high rate of incidences of forced marriage or sexual exploitation?
  3. Think about the age, learning needs and any potential sensitivities within the group and ensure that the sessions respond to this.
  4. Develop a Violence Against Women and Girls action plan that follows the 6 key elements (learning, safeguarding, campaigning, participating, institutionalising and localising) of the comprehensive programme that are outlined in this toolkit. Remember to think of the session delivery as just one element of the programme.
  5. Identify and inform the local child protection lead, ensuring that you are up to date and confident about the child protection policies and procedures.
  6. Map out the sessions that you want to deliver thinking about the age appropriateness and ensuring that they are relevant and engaging for the group.
  7. Link into local partner organisations that may want to deliver the sessions with you. We recommend that you always co-facilitate these sessions so that you can learn from the partner organisation and be able to deliver the content by yourself in the future.
  8. Write a short leaflet or collect local leaflets from support organisations that you can distribute in every session. Also tell the group who they can talk to in the education setting.
  9. Prepare yourself through a training programme and discussions with your colleagues. Remember that this content is sensitive and challenging to deliver; you need to look after yourself and seek support if you need to.

Activities’ and approaches:

A diverse range of methods can be used to engage young people with the issues. These include:

  • Group discussions
  • Drama based activities
  • Art and design
  • Single and mixed sex classes across the curriculum subjects
  • Assemblies
  • Social media campaigns
  • Events

Treating women as equal subjects for study is part of challenging the gender inequality that creates the conducive context for VAWG, therefore it is important to embed discussions and lesson across the curriculum. For example, on women’s rights around the world in geography or the development of the women’s liberation movement in history.

These methods can be used to raise awareness and knowledge of abusive and unhealthy behaviour, of consent, respectful relationships and how to access support. In AVA research in 2012 the methods for facilitating learning to which young people appeared more receptive were drama, testimonies, case studies, facts and statistics. This can be achieved through a range of curriculum subjects.

Dedicated lessons and activities create opportunities and safe spaces for young people to discuss issues they need guidance and support on (for instance across all the projects, sexual consent was an issue that young people struggled with and needed space to understand). A focus on characteristics of unhealthy relationships was also found to be a useful approach to engaging young people in discussions, as this was seen as relevant to them and led them to have a stronger understanding.

Specifically a focus on (un)healthy relationships and where to turn for support both in and out of school, and discussions on how individuals could challenge VAWG attitudes and behaviours were identified as good foci for the work.

Using Stories:

Drama can be used in a variety of ways to facilitate children and young people exploring a complex and sensitive subject. Drama explores scenarios of teenage relationship abuse, domestic violence and forced marriage. Drama can be an effective method to encourage young people’s development of empathy and understanding.

“You’re kind of like putting yourself in their shoes. Even though you are acting, you are acting the part of someone that’s being abused and you have to kind of think and feel the way they feel.” (Young Man in a Secondary school).

Using Statistics and Facts:

Giving young people clarity on what the law and facts around Violence Against Women and Girls are a very important ways to communicate the serious nature of the violence and to engage young people. Young men, in particular, seemed to remember statistics used in the sessions delivered by the external experts. This appeared to provide a useful starting point for the young men to then think about the impact of Violence Against Women and Girls, how it might feel and what could be done.

Because I was really surprised at some of the numbers that they told us about, like three women a week [are killed by a partner], I thought that was wow, really, that’s, I do not believe that. And I was surprised to see how like they acted in, when they did the roles (Young Man in a Secondary school).

I remember being surprised by statistics as to how many cases like this had happened in the UK. It was far bigger than I thought it would be (Young Man in a Secondary school).

Talking about Human Rights:

Violence Against Women and Girls is a Human Rights abuse and it is important for children and young people to make the links to the relevant International, European and National law on Human Rights. Giving children and young people information on Human Rights declarations and law will help them to understand the seriousness of the issue and give an International legal framework for them to see it within. Explain to children and young people about the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, on the UN Declaration on Violence Against Women and the Beijing Platform for Action.


All quotes in this section are from AVA research (2012).