What does this project involve?
The Respect programme aims to help young people re-engage in education and protect them from being drawn into crime and violence. It works with groups of 13 to 14-year-old (Year 9) children who teachers have identified as being at-risk of school exclusion, regularly truanting, having a family member with criminal convictions, or having low levels of educational achievement. The programme is delivered over four months at youth club premises and involves eight life-skills sessions and a week-long residential where children participate in outdoor challenges.
Why did YEF fund this project?
There is an extensive evidence base that children who are excluded from school face further adverse life experiences. This suggests that supporting children to stay in school might lead to higher educational attainment and more opportunities in the future, and ensure children remain in a safe environment. However, the evidence on what kinds of interventions could support children to stay in school and whether this will actually lead to reductions in violence is weaker.
To build on the research in this area, we funded an evaluation of Respect – a well-established programme developed by the Essex Boys and Girls Club that, at the time of funding, had been delivered to over 1,200 children and young people.
The YEF funded feasibility and pilot study looked to understand whether Respect could be delivered as intended, had a good chance of achieving its intended outcomes, and was ready for rigorous evaluation of its impact.
The study addressed these questions using monitoring data from delivery partners, interviews with delivery staff and surveys and focus groups with participants. In total, 24 groups of children took part in this project. Both projects took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused significant disruption and required adaptations to the delivery of the programme. The adaptations included recruiting smaller numbers of participants than planned. When children were able to take part in the programme, delivery partners reported that their attendance and participation in discussions and activities was high.
|Both projects took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused significant disruption and required adaptations to the programme delivery. The adaptations included recruiting smaller numbers of participants than planned. When children were able to take part in the programme, delivery partners reported that their attendance and participation in discussions and activities were high.|
|Challenges with data collection and disruption caused by the pandemic meant that the evaluator was not able to collect the amount of data it had intended to. It was not possible to gather evidence on all the outcomes included in the initial evaluation plan.|
|Surveys and interviews provided evidence of improvements to participants’ self-esteem, resilience and mental well-being. Improvements in participants’ self-esteem was a recurring theme in reports from stakeholders and|
|Participants reported that the programme helped them engage in school, manage their frustrations at school and develop more respect for teachers and other students.|
|Participants reported that the programme helped them learn about the risks of drugs and alcohol misuse and knife crime. However, the accompanying survey results showed only weak evidence that there were changes in risk-taking or criminal behaviour.|
What will YEF do next?
Due to the limitations outlined in the study, particularly the challenges around data collection, we have no immediate plans to fund a further evaluation of the programme.