Findings of the Mercers’ wellbeing evaluation programme

Schools and colleges are increasingly recognised as playing a vital role in supporting young people’s mental health and wellbeing.   

While many school-based mental health programmes exist, there are a number of challenges to identifying effective interventions suitable for rollout within schools and colleges. For example:  

  • The evidence for existing interventions is sometimes mixed and can be unclear.  
  • There is a lack of evidence that can be easily accessed and understood.  
  • Existing evidence is often based upon studies carried out far from the UK context.  
  • Individual context and implementation have a significant effect upon intervention effectiveness. 

For these reasons, there has been increasing emphasis on the importance of evaluating programmes in situ to ensure that the approach adopted is actually helping to achieve the expected outcomes.  However, currently there is limited guidance about the approaches that schools and colleges could take when measuring and monitoring the effectiveness of support for pupils’ mental health and wellbeing. 

The Anna Freud Centre and CORC have been supporting Mercers’ Company Associated Schools and Colleges to address this lack of guidance, by developing approaches to address this. It is our intention that the assorted outputs from the project will be accessed and used by schools and colleges nationally to improve their provision of support for children and young people. In the following sections you can find links to the latest project reports and guidance. 

The Mercers’ wellbeing evaluation programme composed of  key components: 

Wellbeing survey 

Data collected using an annual wellbeing survey were used to understand strengths and needs of the student population and to provide support where it was most needed. Over 10,000 wellbeing surveys were completed during the six years of the project.  

Engagement with students around what such survey results show and how they might be acted upon is often overlooked.   The project produced this guidance document designed to inspire and support education providers to engage students with wellbeing survey findings: 

Engaging students with wellbeing survey findings 

In-depth evaluation  

The project team evaluated the implementation of selected interventions.  A total of six in-depth evaluations of interventions delivered in Mercers’ Associated Schools and Colleges were carried out during the programme. The schools and colleges particularly appreciated independent evaluation that provided impartial staff capacity to design and carry out evaluations and that provided an array of associated learning.  

This briefing describes an approach to monitoring and evaluating children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing in schools and colleges carried out in the most recent in-depth evaluation projects: 

Evaluating programmes to support pupil mental health and wellbeing: examples from schools and colleges working with the Mercers’ Company 

Capacity building  

Direct work with the evaluation team alongside regular workshops for school and college staff focused on developing their knowledge and skills around evaluation. This built confidence and expertise within the schools to enable monitoring and evaluation to be an integral part of wellbeing support.   

Sharing between settings 

The project provided regular opportunities for schools and colleges to share experiences and good practice around pupil wellbeing support. Workshops were also an opportunity to deliberate about and receive guidance around selecting appropriate provision for pupils especially during changing times and circumstances.  

A briefing aimed at secondary school-aged pupils to understand the main learning gained throughout the project can be found here:  

What do we know about mental health? 

Both the final report and exec summary will be available soon 

Lee Atkins, Regional Officer

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