Skip to main content
Search form
  • 00:11

    ESTER MCGEENEY: My name's Ester McGeeneyand I'm a youth researcher and practitioner.I company work for Brook who are a UK young people sexual healthcharity, and I aim their Shout About It program manager.We also deliver a whole range of educationand personal development programsfor young people about sex and relationships

  • 00:32

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: and sexuality and other areas of health and well being.We're also involved in advocacy and campaigning, particularlyaround young people's right to accessfree and confidential sexual health services and education.The aim of the Shout About it projectis to improve the way that Brook understands and evidencesthe impact and quality of its work.

  • 00:55

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: To do that we're doing a number of things, such as runningoutcomes workshops with education staff,reflecting on reviewing our education practiceor evaluation practices, developing new evaluationstrategy, developing an online monitoring and evaluationsystem.And we're also, as part of the Shout About Itproject, going to be developing new quality assurance criteria.

  • 01:21

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: And to do that, we're taking a participatory approachand we're setting up a series of workshops with young volunteersat Brook who are going to be helping us to startof that process of developing new quality assurancecriteria that we can then embed within the organizationand the way that it works.But the plan is to work with a group of young volunteers

  • 01:43

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: at Brook and we're going to run a series of three workshopswhere we are going to try and address the question, whatdoes good quality sex and relationship educationlook like?So this is a one-off project for me.It's like a mini project within a project.So the group meet every Tuesday-- so once a week--and that's an ongoing group.

  • 02:04

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: So I've just come in for three weeksto do this mini project that is kindof part of a wider two year project that I'm working on.It is a participation group so everybody hereis a participation volunteer.So the whole sort of principles and valuesunderpin the participatory so we'regoing to be using participatory approaches

  • 02:24

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: to kind of understand how we can qualityassure what's happening with education programs at Brook.So what does a good quality resourcelook like, what does good quality practice look like,how do we know it when we see it?How do we know if something is good quality or bad quality?And if we've got a checklist or a criteria

  • 02:46

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: or what counts as first class, top quality sexeducation, how do we assess and evaluate that in practice?What kind of practical and realistic methodsand approaches can we develop that can be embeddedwithin the organization?We had sort of three weeks of me working with youguys and today is the last week.

  • 03:07

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: And it kind of-- this fits within my role--is to look at how can Brook improvethe way it understands and evidencesthe impact of its work?So that's things like monitoring and evaluation,but also you thinking about quality assurance.So how do we know whether what we do is any good or not?Like, what is good quality sex ed

  • 03:30

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: and how do we know it when we see it?There are already existing quality assurance criteriaboth for work with young people and, specifically,relating to sex and relationships education.There's also lots of evidence aboutwhat works in sex and relationships education.What we want to do as part of this projectis to enable young people to think about and share

  • 03:55

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: their ideas about what good quality sex education meansto them.So in the workshops that we're running,we're going to-- that's where we're going to start.Start by doing things a serious of activities,that enables young people to generate and share their ideas.As well as just brainstorming what counts as good and badquality SRE.We're also going to use a number of creative techniques

  • 04:19

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: such as using role play or drawing and musicto kind of perform good quality SREand to perform bad quality SRE so that we can really thinkabout and embody what it means to do and--or to be a sort of good quality or poor quality practitioner.

  • 04:39

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: So we have-- so the PSG associationhas developed a set of quality assurance criteriaand a process.And there was like-- I don't know,about 40 different criteria or something with it.And we sorted them into Keep and Not Keepand these guys rewrote some of them.Really didn't-- you really didn't like the languageand stuff, did you, so you kind of changed them.

  • 05:01

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: Take our own checklist points and try and group themtogether into 10 clusters and maybe other-- kind of reworkthem so that-- I don't know-- we might just want 10 statements,we might want 10 statements with some detail on it.We're going to be participatory approaches

  • 05:22

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: and methods in the workshops.And by that I mean that I very much see the young peopleas my co-researchers.So I don't know in advance what the criteria we developare going to be like at the end, Idon't know what we're going to find out through doingthese workshops together.I'm going to do my own research beforehand and bring examples

  • 05:44

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: of evidence with me, but the young peopleare going to be my co-researchers in that process.And they're also going to be sharing their own experiencesif they want to but also going out and finding knowledgeand bringing knowledge and experiencesfrom their own lives and worlds and kind of bringing thattogether.And that's very much a sort of essential principle

  • 06:06

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: of participatory research, that the poweris shared between the researchersand the participants.So it's a kind of collaborative projectabout generating knowledge together and then puttingthat knowledge into practice.So you've got kind of 12 groups of thingsthat you think kind of overlap.

  • 06:25

    SPEAKER 2: There's a lot of overlap between the groupsas well.

  • 06:28

    ESTER MCGEENEY: OK.Within those groupings, how might yoube able to check that?So if one of your things is no assumptions or somethinglike that, how is that something that youmight be able to kind of put in operationalize?I see my role at Brook as working with the organizationto improve the way that it understands and evidences

  • 06:51

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: it's work and the impact of its work.So to do that I need to work with the organization.So I need to work with the practitioners whodeliver sex education and I need to workwith the young people who receive any part of that sexeducation.And so that's why participatory approaches work really wellfor what I am trying to do.

  • 07:12

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: So I need the-- I need ownership and participationfrom the people who work in the organizationin order to make sure that I can understandthe organization well and also to make surethat whatever we learn and developis really embedded and taken forwardwithin the organization.So another distinction that's oftenmade between participatory and non-participatory research

  • 07:35

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: is that participatory research doesn'taim to generate knowledge just for the sake of generatingknowledge, but to generate knowledge for the-- in orderto implement that knowledge, in orderto bring about some kind of actionor some kind of social or organizational change.And that's the aim of my role, to bring about a changewithin the organization.

  • 07:56

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: So that's why it's really important for meto be able to use participatory approaches.Participation and participatory researchare quite broad and possibly contentiousconcepts that mean different things to different peoplein different contexts.It's perhaps easier to think about participatory researchas an approach to research rather than

  • 08:18

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: as a distinct or different set of methods.I think for me one of the important differencesbetween participatory and non-participatory researchis the relationship between the researcher and the researchparticipants and the location of power within the researchprocess.So in participatory research, the ownership

  • 08:39

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: and the control of the research processis shared between the researcher and the research participants.From the design, the implementation,and the analysis to the research data.So we want to get to a place wherewe've got a checklist with values and a sort of how to.

  • 09:08

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: And we want, ideally, about 10 to 15 things on therethat people can self-check, others can check,we want to write a role for young people to observe.We're pretty unsure about other practitioners observingpractitioners.Is that right?

  • 09:24

    SPEAKER 3: Yeah.

  • 09:27

    ESTER MCGEENEY: And then we want feedback from young people.Yeah?Is that all going to equal good sex ed?Once we've looked at what counts as good SRE and bad SRE,we're going to have a look at some of the evidence aroundwhat works in SRE and see the extent to which young people'sideas and experiences match up with the research evidence.

  • 09:50

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: And we're going to use them to startto develop some sort of checklist or criteriathat we might be able to put into practice.We're then going to try out, test it, or pilot it,by bringing in examples of SRE.So we'll ask the young people to go out and get examples.And that could be-- I mean SRE quite broadly-- so it could

  • 10:12

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: be a video on YouTube that is-- that young people useto learn about relationships or to learn about sex.Or it might be a session plan that is used perhapsin what we think more conventionally as SRE,of an educator delivering a session in a school.And so we'll bring in some resourcesand we'll use our checklist to kind of test out,

  • 10:33

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: is this a useful checklist for helpingus establish whether this is a good piece of SREor a bad piece of SRE.I think there are several challenges involvedin this part of the Shout About It project.So I think one of them will be engaging young peoplein conversations about quality and impact,which aren't the most exciting and maybe

  • 10:54

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: aren't the kind of topics that get anybodyexcited-- something specific-- about teenagersor about young people.So that will be part of my job.Is how can I present the questions and dilemmasthat we have to engage with, and how can Ipresent examples of research evidencein ways that are engaging and that I can present what we're

  • 11:17

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: doing as a sort of exciting questionthat we need to work out how to answer together.I think the other challenge for mewill be about how to make sure that this is a genuinelyparticipatory opportunity and it's not a tokenistic projectthat is about, oh, I'll do some workshops with you young people

  • 11:39

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: and then I'll pass their ideas onto the adultswithin the organization who will actually then makedecisions about what is implementedand what is not implemented.So after these three workshops are finished,it's important to me that those young people,if they want to stay involved in the project,do have some ownership over the quality assurance criteria

  • 11:59

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: that they have drafted and that theydo have some ownership about how their ideas are taken forward.And we do have some processes in place.We've got a follow up participation residentialover the summer and we are going to be setting up a qualityworking group which those young volunteers can absolutelybe part of if they want to.But it's about, how do you kind of maintain volunteers time

  • 12:22

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: and enthusiasm in order to make surethat their ideas and their ownership of the projectis able to continue beyond those three workshops?And I'm also going to see if I can kind of setsome sort of quality working group upat Brook that works nationally to try and implementsome of this.If I do that-- so that'd be some sort of national working

  • 12:45

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: group that would have education managersand maybe someone who works in quality assurance--would any of you be interested in beingpart of that group at all?I was a youth practitioner before became a researcher.And when I started to do a PhD and train to be a researcher,I carried on working directly with young people

  • 13:07

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: and their families.So I've always tried to bridge those two worlds of practiceand research.So I think the role that I have now at Brookis-- I'm well suited to that sort of rolebecause I'm able to work between and across those two worldsand because I understand a lot of the practicesand cultures involved in both of those worlds.

  • 13:28

    SPEAKER 4: In the sessions, everybodyis encouraged to have their say and it definitely,for me personally, I feel comfortable sharingmy own experiences and my thoughts and ideas.Everybody is listened to, which is really important.And everybody-- yeah-- is really encouraged to participate

  • 13:51

    SPEAKER 4 [continued]: and all ideas are heard and valued and respected.

  • 13:57

    SPEAKER 5: It's a lot of asking us questions,a lot of teamwork, just a lot of, generally,people just voicing their opinionsand actually just hearing other people's storiesand finding out how other people see things in life.

  • 14:10

    ESTER MCGEENEY: So I think in-- whenrunning participatory groups always a tensionas the facilitator between how directive do you be.So how much do you say, this is the activity we're doing,let's go, and how much do you say, what do youwant to do today and come to some kind of group decision.So in today's session I did a lot of the latter.So trying to work with the group to come

  • 14:31

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: to some kind of consensus about how we were going to work.And perhaps, in a short one hour and a half session,it might have worked better if I'd been more directive, if I'dlaid out the activities and said, right, let's all do thisand then come back together.And I think sometimes it's that tension in thinkingthat I'm being too directive or I'm telling people what to do.

  • 14:53

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: But actually what you are doing in your role as the facilitatoris setting up the activity that facilitates and allows peopleto be able to participate.So you provide the tools, whether those tools arethe bits of paper that we were sortingor some sort of brainstorming activity.Whatever the activity is, that's the toolthat enables every person in that room to share their voices

  • 15:16

    ESTER MCGEENEY [continued]: and to share their ideas and to feellike they are being listened to and that they are being heard.And I do think we did that.I did feel today that there was a relatively even balanceof voices and that people were able to challenge each otherand it felt like a safe space.

Video Info

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd

Publication Year: 2017

Video Type:In Practice

Methods: Participatory research, Participatory action research

Keywords: community action; health services; organizational change; quality assurance; Sex and relationships education; Sex counseling; Sex education; Sexuality; teamwork; workshops; youth; youth and media; youth counseling; YouTube ... Show More

Segment Info

Segment Num.: 1

Persons Discussed:

Events Discussed:



Ester McGeeney is a researcher with Brook Sexual Health Charity. She discusses her work with youth education and collaborating with youth to define quality sex education.

Looks like you do not have access to this content.

Participatory Research: Brook Sexual Health Advice

Ester McGeeney is a researcher with Brook Sexual Health Charity. She discusses her work with youth education and collaborating with youth to define quality sex education.

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website