Read a Q&A with Sarah Jane Sauntson and Gemma Holbird

1. What are your backgrounds and how do you think this will help you both in your new roles?

SJ – I have a background in teaching children and young people with special educational needs.  As such, I think my strengths are in creating and delivering exciting lessons and presentations to suit a variety of learning styles.  I also have experience working as an advisor for Alternatives Stamford and have completed training in many areas of sexual health.  As an ex-soldier, I’m pretty organised too which comes in handy when managing a team of volunteers and a very busy diary!

Gemma – I am a Secondary English Teacher and I have taught drama and PSHE, I also have experience using theatre in education. I have always had a pastoral heart within my work and have had managerial experience as Head of Year. I love engaging young people in learning and finding creative ways to do this; I hope to continue to bring this to the role. Obviously being familiar with how schools operate is an asset and I hope this allows me to engage successfully with staff and students.

2. What would you both like to achieve whilst you are the Education Managers?

SJ – I think we want to continue providing excellent sex and relationships education in schools in Stamford and the surrounding area.

Gemma – Absolutely, and expanding our reach. In the long term we are very keen to develop our work in secondary schools in order to engage with more young people.

3. What challenges do you think you’ll face working for a charity, and how do you think it will differ from your previous roles?

SJ and Gemma – Not knowing whether we will have funding for the education team from one academic year to the next is a challenge but it doesn’t stop us getting excited about the potential and opportunities for growth in the future.

4. Why do you both think age appropriate sex and relationships education is so important?

SJ – This quote from an article I read a couple of years ago answers this question perfectly… Children do not live in a bubble. In a society where sexualised imagery is everywhere, it is crucial that children learn the facts in an appropriate way so that they can navigate the pressures, fashions and dangers of a highly sexualised culture safely.  Not all children are given the facts and information they need at home — sometimes because of parental indifference, embarrassment, or both. Instead, thousands of curious kids get their understanding of sex from the playground rumour mill, television, advertising and — most perilously — from the internet.

Gemma – I think it is of paramount importance to introduce young people to the subject of sex and relationships in a positive context before they are bombarded by potentially negative issues sometimes even before they hit the teenage years. It allows them to deal with the subject matter in a sensible, open and honest forum that demystifies and makes clear the proper context for sexual relationships. It also helps to give young people security and confidence in their own identity.

5. What do you both like to do in your free time?

SJ – Spend time with my husband and two daughters, read, exercise and bake cakes!

Gemma – We are also busy parents with three children which of course takes much of our focus and energy! I enjoy lots of creative activities and music is a big part of our family life. I’m an avid musical theatre lover. I also enjoy contributing to the work of St George’s church.


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