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Recent (2012/13) research conducted by Manchester, Bath and Keele Universities has concluded that preventative education probably needs to commence before children reach the age of 13. Many young people already have knowledge of domestic abuse, even if they do not necessarily regard it as such.

Preventative interventions in schools must therefore be responsive to those C&YP who have already experienced abuse within their own relationships – in whatever role – as much as those who have no such experiences and who need appraising of the dangers.

Such interventions need also to be sensitive to the possibility that many young people’s attitudes are often informed both by experiences of dealing with abuse – sometimes without the help of adults – and by wider levels of peer acceptance. Such attitudes are often subtly gendered, but they are also coloured in part by self perceptions of culpability, ‘hitting back’ the circumstance in which young men and women are most likely to condone violence.

In response to the recent research and our experience of providing support services to women and children experiencing domestic abuse over the last 30 years, West Mercia Women’s Aid has been awarded funding to pilot an evaluated primary school programme in selected schools in Herefordshire & Worcestershire.

‘The GREAT Project’ which explores healthy relationships has been running in all but two of Nottingham’s primary schools since 2011 and has been evaluated by Nottingham Trent University.

The project is innovative in that it seeks to engage schools and multi-agency professionals in the task of raising the awareness of primary school aged children (10 & 11) about the dangers of domestic abuse, and begins to provide them with the attitudes and skills needed to sustain healthy relationships. The Herefordshire & Worcestershire pilots seek to lead the way towards WMWA rolling out this initiative across West Mercia.

What are the benefits?

  • The GREAT Project enables primary school children to gain knowledge about healthy relationships, to explore what domestic abuse is and to know where to go for help and support.
  • The GREAT Project has been designed to complement Key Stage 2 Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) and Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) objectives and has been created in consultation with pupils.
  • The GREAT Project resources are interesting, colourful, and interactive and take into account visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learners. The resources are accessible for a range of abilities and are designed to enable pupils to retain, remember and recall the information.
  • The GREAT Project has been designed to enable a sensitive approach to the delivery of a specialist topic.

How does it work?

The GREAT Project is a 4 x 2 hour session project designed to promote healthy relationships and raise awareness about domestic abuse to year 5 and 6 pupils.

Each session is summarised below, with a link to a document highlighting aims, learning outcomes and links to PSHE and SEAL requirements.

• Session 1: Healthy Relationships

• Session 2: Defining Domestic Abuse

• Session 3: Reasons & Excuses

• Session 4: Respecting Each other


Each C&YP receives a pack containing:

• 1x Workbook
• 1x Pencil
• 1x Certificate
• 1x ‘Book about me’

After 3 months the team delivering ‘The GREAT Project’ return to the school for a ‘GREAT’ Graduation session. This session is used to consolidate and celebrate the learning and to assess what has been retained by the C&YP involved.

Preparation for ‘The GREAT Project’ delivery

Teachers and Governors would be expected to attend a twilight briefing session prior to the commencement of the GREAT project, to better understand the content, process and benefits. This has proven to be an invaluable session where questions can be answered and any concerns raised.

Disclosures by C&YP

As part of the pilot phase WMWA is offering any C&YP that makes a disclosure of domestic abuse during the period of delivery the opportunity to access support & help. Please note that this does not replace any safeguarding or child protection processes or mechanisms already deployed by the school, but is intended to enhance that provision.


If you would like some more information about ‘The GREAT Project’ then please call:

JEMMA PRICE on 0800 014 9084 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.