Ecorys UK

The Department for Education has commissioned Ecorys UK to undertake an independent evaluation of the Peer Support Programme.

The programme has been externally evaluated by Ecorys - reporting both quantitatively and qualitatively on the impact the project has had on young people’s emotional and educational outcomes.

The evaluation had three main aims:

  • to understand how schools, go about delivering peer support to support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing in order to produce a range of replicable models for different contexts
  • to provide sufficient detail and quality so schools, colleges and youth groups can readily access and adopt these models with some confidence that programmes may work in their setting; and,
  • to deliver research findings in a manner that is accessible to schools, colleges and youth organisations.

The evaluation involved the following activities:

  1. Pupil surveys - including both mentors and mentees. 
  1. Participatory tools – to collect any examples of feedback or self-evaluation including peer support diaries and visual tools 
  1. Case study visits - a small number of schools were approached to host a visit, where a member of the evaluation team spoke with pupils and staff. 

The evaluation by Ecorys UK found that 84 per cent of the schools and youth clubs said they will continue to run peer support after the pilot.

You can read the summary report here: Lessons learned from a pilot programme evaluation

Schools minister Nick Gibb said:

“School or college should be a place where pupils feel safe and supported to learn, so it’s encouraging to see the number of schools recognising the value of peer-to-peer mentoring project, where pupils look out for their classmates’ wellbeing through supportive conversations. 

"Understanding what works will help us improve the support available for every pupil.

"Studies like these are one of many ways we are promoting wellbeing in schools, including through the introduction of compulsory health education from September, teaching pupils what good mental health looks like and how to seek help when needed.”

Read the full evaluation report here.

Professor Peter Fonagy, chief executive of the Anna Freud Centre, said:

“Very often children feel better helped by confiding in each other than they do when sharing with adults. The deep sense of trust that they can have in their friends, and their willingness to help each other, is of inestimable value. Peer support provides a way of encouraging the trust and support that creates communities, which in turn help children to feel accepted and included. Feeling comfortable about talking and sharing their emotions can reduce conflict and create important bonds that can last a lifetime. Peer support is an often untapped resource to support wellbeing. We need more of it."

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