A rigorous evaluation of our work during phase 2 of funding from The Big Lottery Fund is essential for HeadStart Wolverhampton. It allows us to reflect on the impact of HeadStart upon the mental well-being and resilience of young people in the city, and use what we've learned to make further improvements to services.
An independent evaluation of school-based HeadStart programmes within the city has been published by Sarah Elsey, Liz Coleyshaw, and Karl Royle, from the Centre for Developmental and Applied Research in Education, at the University of Wolverhampton. The evaluation focusses on the two main programmes that we have piloted in our phase 2 schools:
- The Penn Resilience Programme (PRP) in secondary schools
- SUMO for Schools (Stop, Understand, Move On) in primary schools
The report contains many positive observations and testimonies from these programmes, but also provides us with valuable insights into challenges and obstacles that staff and students in school must overcome to truly embed strategies for improving mental health and resilience into their day-to-day lives.
Both staff and pupils responded positively to the programs and both programs were seen as a useful addition to the work and life of the schools.
Pupils were better able to deal with challenges they face and there was a tangible improvement in terms of pupil behaviour.
There was a noticeable increase in the capacity of pupils to draw on resources/strategies that support and sustain well-being and resilience. Pupils understood the objectives of the programs and recognised the positive influence the programs had upon attitudes and behaviours.
For PRP pupils, the benefits of sharing experience were significant, and reported as being very powerful in encouraging alternative perspectives and increasing tolerance and understanding.
Staff-to-pupil and pupil-to-pupil relationships had seen a marked improvement
Pupils found the language very accessible in SUMO, giving them a shared vocabulary for talking about emotions and responses to difficult / challenging situations
Schools reported innovative ways of adapting both SUMO and PRP delivery to respond to schools' individual needs. Some schools drew on external resources and outside agencies to support program delivery and all pupils could independently draw on skills and techniques.
Other positive impacts included increased confidence, improved decision-making skills, an increase in self-esteem, and improved stress management and reflective skills.
Download the report
Many thanks to the team at Wolverhampton University for their commitment to the evaluation process, and for informing our next steps in developing programmes with schools in the city.
We will now use this evaluation and other feedback on HeadStart projects to structure compelling, evidence-based proposals as part of our Phase 3 bid for additional funding from The Big Lottery.