This think piece is a summary of findings from research undertaken by Massey University’s Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation (SHORE). The project was initiated and funded by community trusts and philanthropic organisations concerned about the effectiveness of externally provided education programmes in schools.
Read the report SHORE summary think-piece.
Twelve New Zealand programmes were identified and assessed both against the evidence for effectiveness in creating behavioural change and good health outcomes and bestpractice principles for teaching and learning:
- In terms of sustainable long term health and behavioural outcomes, nearly all of the programmes were rated as likely to be ineffective
- With regard to best practice principles for teaching and learning, some programmes rated reasonably well in areas such as interactive learning and teaching, having a social skills focus, clear aims and realistic goals
- Programmes generally rated poorly in terms of embracing a whole school approach or linking in to effective community-level strategies – approaches evidence has shown to be more effective.
Confusion between learning outcomes and behavioural outcomes:
- Most of the evaluations of the New Zealand programmes focused on learning outcomes – when Assessing against international evidence these were highly rated there was a tendency to assume behavioural change would follow
- The bulk of the evidence suggests this is not the case
- That good classroom-based teaching will not, in itself, improve health and safety in later years was difficult for some providers to accept.
Promising directions identified in the literature included:
- Adopting a ‘whole school’ approach to improve the mental health promoting qualities of the school, including connectedness with home and wider community initiatives
- Involving parents in communication about expectations and discipline
- The need for a cross-sector community-wide action limiting supply and marketing of alcohol and drugs
Suggested changes in direction require a significant commitment to extra resourcing and funding:
- There is a need for a ‘whole school’ approach as many teachers and providers have limited experience in a ‘whole school’ approach, professional development and training would be required
- Providers need to better collaborate with each other and other community groups
- Many providers have little awareness of other programmes/community networks. Effective networking would require considerable capacity building
- There is a need to develop promising local initiatives
- Extensive infrastructure support and funding would be needed
- There is a need for programmes designed to meet specific cultural needs (there is evidence from the literature that this is a promising approach)
- As no culture-specific programmes were identified, these would have to be developed
- There is agreement that alcohol and drug and mental health education is appropriately part of the Health and Physical Education curriculum
- While these issues are being addressed as part of the Health and Physical Education curriculum in schools, there is concern over the ability of some teachers to deal with these topics and effectively implement mental health education programmes
The project was initiated and funded by ASB Community Trust, Bay Trust, Community Trust of Otago, Eastern and Central Community Trust, JR McKenzie Trust, Tindall Foundation, Trust Waikato and Whanganui Community Foundation.
For further information contact: ASB Community Trust, 50 Ponsonby Road, Phone 09 360 0291 or 0800 272 878; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.asbcommunitytrust.org.nz