Evaluating the Impact of the Cheshire East Emotionally Healthy Schools Pilot Project
The emotionally healthy schools project (EHS) is a local partnership approach between schools, statutory and non-statutory emotional health and wellbeing services; providing a mixture of whole school and targeted interventions for pupils, underpinned by access to mental health and wellbeing training and consultation to school staff. It was developed by Cheshire East Children’s Service to address priority outcomes in its Children and Young People’s Plan, 2015-2018, and was designed in accordance with the principles outlined with the Department of Education’s (2015) white paper: “Promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing – A whole school and college approach”.The project was piloted in six secondary schools between December 2015 and December 2016.
The purpose of the research study was to provide an independent evaluation of the outcomes for pupils and staff following the delivery of the EHS project. This was in order to identify the effective elements of the pilot for roll out across all secondary schools within the East Cheshire Locality. A multi-method approach was designed in partnership with the local project steering group and members of the local young advisor’s participation group.
The study showed: 1) an increased level of knowledge and confidence in staff and pupils in relation to seeking and providing support for emotional wellbeing issues; 2) improved wellbeing outcomes for pupils receiving targeted support; 3) a decrease in referrals to specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
The results identified elements of the project that had contributed to improvement outcomes was used to secure additional Public Health England (PHE) funding to refine and roll out the programme across all schools within the locality. Knowledge gained from the study in respect of data collection instruments and analysis methods for evaluation of whole-school projects have been used to support other education authorities to evaluate their EHS implementation plans. The findings have been published and disseminated in 3 national conferences and events and submitted to PHE, contributing to a wider understanding of how to develop the Government’s agenda for whole-school approaches to supporting emotional health and wellbeing in schools.
Funder: Cheshire East Council Children’s Commissioning Team (£26,500)
Team: Celeste Foster (PI), Dr Shelly Allen (Co-I), and Dr Gillian Rayner (Co-I)