The Spark welcomes the new Toolkit for Future Parenting, developed by the WAVE Trust in partnership with the Scottish Government. As providers of extensive early years and youth relationship education programmes, we are delighted to see the introduction of this important youth relationship resource.

youth relationship education WAVE Trust Parenting toolkit

 A valuable resource for youth relationship education

Building on Early Years and the National Parenting Strategy, the toolkit recognises what The Spark and other relationship professionals have always known: relationships are key to Children and Young People’s lifelong outcomes.

The new WAVE Trust programme will offer non-judgemental, supportive and practical information about Parenthood and Relationships to Young People. It is designed to lay the foundation for ‘transformational change in the preparation for positive parenthood’ and ‘to make the next generation of parents the best generation of parents’.

These are fantastic aspirations for youth relationship education in Scotland. However they place great expectation on an already stretched resource: Scotland’s teachers.

 Do teachers need support to implement the Toolkit for Future Parenting?

The Spark’s work in schools means we encounter school staff daily. They are passionate about getting the best for their pupils. Sadly this often comes with the acknowledgement that the time and skills required to implement additional programmes alongside the Curriculum for Excellence are extremely limited.

Programmes that cover emotional wellbeing and personal development often place an emotional burden on teachers: they may feel ill-equipped to deal with some of the issues raised by pupils and this can impact on them personally. This can leave teachers feeling distressed as they don’t have sufficient time or specialised skills to support their pupils in the manner they would wish.

youth relationship education

The importance of skilled facilitators

The research undertaken ahead of the production of the Toolkit highlighted ‘the importance of having facilitators who have the skills to help children process strong feelings and who should be able to demonstrate an example of what a good relationship looks and feels like and having personal experience of being a parent is helpful’.

The Spark can provide support for the implementation of the new Toolkit for Future parenting:

  • The Spark Relationship First Aid Programme would help key delivery staff to develop additional expertise and skills to support the delivery of the Toolkit.  It would increase their confidence to be able to open up and close down difficult topics in a safe way and know where to access additional support for their pupils.
  • For schools where their teaching staff are already stretched, The Spark have a team of experienced relationship facilitators who have the specialist skills to help children process strong feelings, who would be able to deliver the programme.

The future

Our hope is that this toolkit will build a foundation for further programmes to support our young people. The Toolkit acknowledges that:

  • Many of the young people undertaking this programme will have additional challenges and they may not have had the optimum circumstances within their own families.
  • The programme may highlight the need for further support through counselling for those of our children who may have experienced family conflict, loss, relationship difficulties and breakdown within families and indeed those young people with multiple challenges including being looked after.

The Toolkit is a very welcome resource which we hope will be widely used. Should you be a professional or statutory agency that would like to hear more about how The Spark can support the implementation of the toolkit or our work in general, please contact us on 0141 222 2166, e-mail info@thespark.org.uk or visit our website.

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