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Poppy Nash, Ph.D Departments of Psychology & Education University of York The YeSS! Project [ Year Seven Support] Supporting vulnerable.

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Presentation on theme: "Poppy Nash, Ph.D Departments of Psychology & Education University of York The YeSS! Project [ Year Seven Support] Supporting vulnerable."— Presentation transcript:

1 Poppy Nash, Ph.D Departments of Psychology & Education University of York The YeSS! Project [ Year Seven Support] Supporting vulnerable learners in their transition to secondary school: A randomised controlled trial A randomised controlled trail

2 Acknowledgements  Professors Charles Hulme and Margaret Snowling, and Dr Lisa Henderson, Dept of Psychology, University of York  Dr. Barry Wright, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Selby & York PCT  Chris Teesdale, Behaviour Support Unit, City of York Council  J. Hartley, P. Henman, J. Kerridge, J. King, L. Lacey & S. Wilkins City of York Council  Dr. Jackie Lown, Educational Psychology Service, Formerly City of York Council & University of Sheffield  Sam Dunderdale, Cross-Phase Behaviour & Attendance Consultant City of York Council

3 Overview  Outline of YeSS! Project  Findings pertaining to mental health indicators  Preliminary implications of findings  Future directions – what next?

4 Who are ‘vulnerable learners’?  For purpose of this project, ‘vulnerable learners’ refer to those who continue to struggle at school with academic and/or social aspects of education ie:  Need regular help with literacy and/or numeracy  Language impairment  Negative attitude towards school and learning  Difficulties relating to peers/people in general  Risk of being bullied (eg seen as ‘easy’ target)  Shy and lacking in self-confidence  NB: No reference to those with disruptive behaviour

5 Supporting vulnerable learners in transition to secondary school  The need to support vulnerable learners in moving to secondary school, highlighted in evaluation of Year 6 Transition small group work in York primary schools (Nash, 2005 - City of York Council)  Whilst Transition groups in primary schools proved very effective in preparing children to transfer to secondary school, recommended that such support needs to continue in new secondary school environment, at least during children’s first term (Year 7, Autumn, aged 11-12)

6 Vulnerable Learners  Individuals with academic difficulties are at increased risk of social- emotional and behavioural difficulties (eg Maughan & Carroll, 2006; Terras et al., 2009)  Reported relationships between language difficulties and internalizing problems eg anxiety, depression and social withdrawal (eg Carroll et al., 2005; Lindsay & Dockrell, 2000)  Children may be especially vulnerable at times of transition...

7 YeSS! project  Esmée Fairbairn Foundation funded 18-month project (May 2009–October 2010), to evaluate effectiveness of small group, school-based intervention programme to support vulnerable learners in transition to secondary school  10-week intervention developed by Poppy Nash and Chris Teasdale (Behaviour Support, City of York Council)  Programme piloted in 3 York secondary schools in 2007 with promising results (Nash, 2008)

8 Research questions – YeSS! project 1.What is impact of Year 7 intervention programme on children’s resiliency for coping with change & challenge? 2.What is impact of Year 7 intervention programme on children’s mental health (symptoms of depression and/oranxiety)?

9 YeSS! project intervention programme  Equips participants with strategies and skills to enable them to cope with challenges of secondary school, ie emotional literacy, use of positive self-talk, problem-solving & relaxation techniques  Examples of positive & helpful self-talk: l “I can do it!” l “I’ll give it my best shot” l “I tried really hard”  Examples of negative & unhelpful self-talk: l “I’m rubbish at sport” l “I’m so nervous” l “I know I messed it up”

10 YeSS! project intervention programme  By enabling children to identify and change nature of negative messages they give themselves, possible to promote more positive self-perceptions, especially regarding attitudes towards learning and experiences of school and increasing self-confidence

11 Outline of 10-week small group intervention  Weeks 1-3:Transition to school – Managing change  Week 4:Introducing self-talk (messages we give ourselves)  Weeks 5-7:Recognising helpful & unhelpful messages we give ourselves, especially at school  Week 8-9: Choice & changing our habits  Week 10: I’m in charge of me! Intervention programme incorporates Secondary SEAL learning outcomes for Year 7, Theme 4: Learning About Me

12 Design – randomised controlled trial  10 N. Yorks secondary schools, 3 groups per school (n=247)  Maximum 10 children per group (30 children per school)  Primary schools & secondary schools involved in recruitment  Parent and child consent obtained  Two staff members per school trained to deliver programme Intervention Group n=82 48 Males; 34 Females Age 11.08-12.06 Mean age 11.52 (0.30) Waiting List Control Group n=82 46 Males; 36 Females Age 11.08-12.00 Mean age 11.47 (0.30) Untreated Control Group n=83 49 Males; 34 Females Age 11.08-12.00 Mean age 11.53 (0.29)

13 Participants – SEN Register School Action School Action Plus StatementNone Intervention [n=82] 23.8%10.0%7.5%58.8% Waiting List [n=82] 33.3%11.1%4.9%50.6% Untreated [n=83] 26.5%15.7%0%57.8% Total [n=247] 27.9%12.3%4.1%55.7%

14 Participants: Identified Needs GroupsNumeracy /Literacy Speech/ Language Negative Attitude to School Peer relationship problems At risk of being bullied Shy/ Low self- confid. Intervention Group [n=82] 66.7%10.3%12.8%29.5%30.8%46.0% Waiting Controls [n=82] 74.0%14.8% 28.4%25.9%43.2% Untreated Controls [n=83] 66.3%13.3%9.6%26.5%22.9%42.2% Total [n=247] 69%12.8%12.4%28.1%26.4%43.8%

15 Assessment across Year 7: Time 1-4 T1 Pre-intervention assessment September 2009 T2 Post-intervention assessment December 2009 T3 Follow-up end of Spring term March/April/May 2010 T4 Follow-up end of Summer term July 2010

16 Measures of resiliency & mental health indicators - Sense of Mastery (MAS, Prince-Embury - RSCA) - Children’s Attributional Style Questionnaire (CASQ-R) - Moods and Feelings Questionnaire (SMFQ) - Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC-10) - Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ - Child) - Life At School Profile (LASP – Nash) Cognitive skills - One minute maths test (addition & subtraction) - Brief spelling test (orthographic choice – 20 items) - British Picture Vocabulary Scales (BPVS – 38 items) Children’s Communication checklist (CCC2) Assessment battery

17 Symptoms of Depression (SMF) - all participants ANCOVA - T2 controlling for T1: F (2, 183) = 0.60, p >.05 ANCOVA - T3 controlling for T1: F (2, 186) = 0.23, p >.05

18 Symptoms of Depression (SMF) ANCOVA (T3 controlling for T1) Group: F (2, 186) = 0.53, p >.05 Gender: F (1, 186) = 0.24, p >.05 Group x Gender: F (2, 186) = 4.08, p <.01 ANCOVA (T3 controlling for T2) Group: F (2, 183) = 1.13, p >.05 Gender: F (1, 183) = 0.16, p >.05 Group x Gender: F (2, 183) = 5.39, p <.01 MALEFEMALE

19 Symptoms of Depression (SMF) ANCOVA (T3 controlling for T1) Group: F (2, 186) = 0.53, p >.05 Gender: F (1, 186) = 0.24, p >.05 Group x Gender: F (2, 186) = 4.08, p <.01 ANCOVA (T3 controlling for T2) Group: F (2, 183) = 1.13, p >.05 Gender: F (1, 183) = 0.16, p >.05 Group x Gender: F (2, 183) = 5.39, p <.01

20 SMF – Item 8 ‘I hated myself’ ANCOVA (T3 controlling for T1) Group: F (2, 201) = 4.19, p <.05 Gender: F (1, 201) = 0.19, p >.05 Group x Gender: F (2, 201) = 5.15, p <.01 ANCOVA (T3 controlling for T2) Group: F (2, 192) = 4.30, p <.05 Gender: F (1, 192) = 0.45, p >.05 Group x Gender: F (2, 192) = 4.58, p <.05

21 Correlations between outcome measures MAS SELFMAS ADPLASPMASCSMF SDQ Emotion MAS Opt.67***.58***.54***.03-.40***-.18** MAS SELF-.65***.61***.03-.27***-.14* MAS ADP--.64***.12-.31***-.12 LASP---.19**-.26**-.04 MASC----.29***.55*** SMF-----.58***

22 Feedback from children  When asked how intervention had helped them, vast majority of children in both groups identified their increased self- confidence  Others mentioned opportunity to make friends and to share worries, eg one child said that programme had “got my worries over”

23 Continuity of programme in schools  All group facilitators reported that they found implementing the programme a positive and worthwhile experience  All schools involved in project have chosen to continue to run intervention programme after completion of project, some using it with older students

24 Implications of findings – some reflections  Need to ask why Groups A and B receiving school-based intervention, didn’t show greater benefits of being part of a nurturing and supportive group, irrespective of nature and content of intervention  Fact that ‘group benefit’ not clearly evidenced by the project, suggests that other factors may be in operation, e.g. experience of being withdrawn from usual curriculum timetable, itself may have ethical and social issues for participants concerned.  If this means antagonistic students are reluctant and unreceptive participants, overall effectiveness of intervention could be compromised (eg Shochet et al., 2001)

25 Implications of findings – some reflections  Whilst RCTs remain ‘gold standard’ for evidence-based research in education, how can we as researchers resolve apparent ‘clash’ of fundamental principles between differing priorities of: - RCT methodology => randomisation + outcome - Therapeutic group work => group dynamics + processes (ie with hand-picked participants)  Chalk and Smith (1995) identify group process rather than session content as of primary importance in group work  With hindsight, may have been more productive to randomise groups, rather than randomise individuals to the three groups

26 Implications of findings – some reflections  In school-based interventions, critical distinction must be made between programmes which are:  skills-based (eg literacy/numeracy/language)  ‘therapeutic’ in nature (eg changing perceptions/feelings)  Skills-based interventions are well-suited to particular demands of RCTs, as manualised/scripted interventions, ie can train school staff in specifics of delivering programme (eg Hatcher et al., 2006)  In contrast, psychosocial or psycho-educational interventions focus on responsive and dynamic group work, ie =>therapeutic games (eg Cheung, 2006) =>emotional coaching (eg Hromek, 2006)

27 What next?  This study is amongst first RCTs in UK, to investigate whether school-based, targeted intervention can increase psychological resilience of vulnerable learners during their first year at secondary school  Project has highlighted fundamental challenges in conducting:  School-based transition research  School-based RCT which are ‘therapeutic’ in nature  Now need to build on this experience with new project looking at resiliency of those at risk of exclusion/already excluded from school

28 To conclude...  To date, intervention appears to be most effective for:  Females  Addressing socio-emotional needs => self-confidence and friendships  Reduction in symptoms of depression especially self-loathing, suggests intervention programme implemented in Year 7 Autumn term, plays some part in raising self-respect and enhancing self- perception of female participants  Literature suggests rising incidence of early adolescent depression (eg Gray, 2010), where girls especially prone to external locus of control and negative attributions. Year 7 intervention programme offers a means of addressing and changing these negative thought patterns, as evidenced by the findings to date

29 Thank you for listening!

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