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 "For the Sake of the Kids —Relationships Education: the problem, policy and practice”

 December 6th, 2013

[Click on names below for a link to their papers and slides.]
[See press comment on the conference here.]

Welcome and Introduction: ‘For the Sake of the Kids’

Sir Paul Coleridge: Chairman, The Marriage Foundation

Children’s experience of divorce and separation
Penelope Leach: Hon Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues, Birkbeck, University of London
Melanie Gill: Founder of the Mindful Policy Group; assessment psychologist and court expert witness

Keynote Address

The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Regretting divorce and separation: evidence from a new survey

Deborah Jeff: Head of Family Law, Seddons

Promoting access to relationships education: issues and challenges
Ruth Sutherland: CEO, Relate

How can we increase the uptake of relationships support and education? 
(panel and discussion)
Penny Mansfield CBE: Director, OnePlusOne
Jason Royce: Director, Romance Academy
Harry Benson: Marriage Foundation

How can we increase the uptake of marriage preparation and enrichment? 
(panel and discussion)
Mark Molden: Chief Executive, Marriage Care
Nicky and Sila Lee: Founders of Relationships Central, The Marriage Course, The Marriage Preparation Course

Concluding comments/discussion
Sir Paul Coleridge

Children are the biggest casualties of family breakdown. Relationships education is one of the key tools for combating it. The purpose of this conference was to substantively raise the whole profile of relationships education and examine the need for its provision.

The Marriage Foundation has highlighted the price that children pay for broken relationships and has been making the case for better access to high quality relationships education. In this conference we examined:

 1. The reality of muddled lives: who needs relationships education and the kinds of things they need to learn

 2. The policy response: how and why government is supporting relationships education, and providers’ views of its effectiveness

 3. What good relationships education looks like and how it can be made more available

This conference will intended to be of interest to providers of relationships education, people who are key points of contact with users (registrars, solicitors, clergy, health visitors, children’s centres, youth organisations, etc) and those involved with policy formulation and implementation in this area.


The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith, MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions since 2010, also chairs the government's Social Justice Committee. In 2004 he founded the Centre for Social Justice, an independent think tank committed to tackling poverty and social breakdown, and oversaw the process and publication of the highly regarded Breakdown Britain Report, which noted, among many other things, that "children's welfare is tightly bound up with the quality of their parents' relationships and they are, often, the most vulnerable when families break down."

Paul Coleridge
The Marriage Foundation is rooted in the vision and concern of Paul Coleridge, its Chairman and Founder. Sir Paul was appointed a High Court judge in the Family Division in 2000 after thirty years as a family law specialist barrister. He deals with complex cases of family break up, especially those which involve children. The fundamental concern which drove him to establish the Marriage Foundation relates to family breakdown and its destructive effect of the lives of children.
Nicky and Sila Lee are the Founders of Relationship Central. They are co-authors of The Marriage Book, which is based on The Marriage Preparation Course and The Marriage Course, and The Parenting Book, which is based on The Parenting Children Course and The Parenting Teenagers Course. There are 6,500 of their courses running in 109 countries, in 40 languages.
Ruth Sutherland, CEO of Relate, has a vast amount of experience from the public and voluntary sectors, and has also worked extensively in the social justice, health and wellbeing arenas. The value and significance of healthy relationships have been a consistent theme across Ruth’s career, she has a deep personal and professional commitment to helping to create a healthier and happier society.
Penelope Leach is one of the UK’s best-known child development psychologists. She writes extensively on parenting issues from a child development perspective. Her best known book, Your Baby and Child, has sold almost 3 million copies worldwide. Penelope is Hon Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues, Birkbeck, University of London and at the Tavistock and Portman NHS trust. She is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a founder member of the Association of Infant Mental Health.
Melanie Gill is a psychologist, and founder of the Mindful Policy Group. Melanie Gill is an assessment psychologist and court expert witness who specialises in child development, trauma, schema theory and mental health. Melanie is also a committee member of the Association for Infant Mental Health UK and chairs Mental Health Act hearings in Sussex.
Mark Molden is the CEO of Marriage Care which offers marriage preparation, relationship counselling and more. It also specialises in helping couples – married or not – build and sustain strong, fulfilling, healthy relationships, and in providing support in times of relationship difficulty.
Penny Mansfield CBE is Director of OnePlusOne. She is a sociologist specialising in qualitative research on marriage and couple relationships and on evidence-based practice and policy. She is a frequent speaker at conferences and a regular contributor to both print and broadcast media.  She is a member of the Department of Health Expert Group for the Healthy Child Programme and of the Department for Work and Pension’s Ministerial Steering Group for family support services.
Jason Royce is Director of the Romance Academy. He is a youth worker with over 12 years experience within local authorities, schools, churches, and community settings. During that time he has spoken widely to many different audiences about the needs of young people in today's society. He has travelled all over the UK speaking passionately and directly about healthy relationships and how Romance Academy is empowering parents, youth workers, churches, schools and other youth organisations to tackle this crucial issue too.
Deborah Jeff is the Head of the Family Department at Seddons. The majority of her work involves complex financial disputes within divorce and between cohabiting couples. Deborah regularly works with psychologists and counsellors to ensure clients and their children navigate the separation process in the healthiest way possible. She is a qualified collaborative lawyer and often provides legal commentary for the national press. She will be presenting newly-commissioned research on people's experience of divorce, separation and relationships education. 
Harry Benson is the Marriage Foundation’s Communication Director. He was founder and director of the relationship education charity Bristol Community Family Trust and the author and originator of Let’s Stick Together, a pioneering relationship book and programme for new parents in the post-natal system and Surestart, now backed by the Department for Education.