Evidence Based Practice Unit


And the winner is... the HeadStart Learning Team!

4 May 2018

By Charlotte Payne

Making a Difference Award

The HeadStart Learning Team were overjoyed to take home the Outstanding Benefit to Society through Research award this week at University of Manchester’s Making a Difference awards.

The Awards celebrate the impact that University of Manchester staff, students, alumni and external partners are having on the social well-being of communities and wider society, offer the opportunity to share best practice about social responsibility initiatives, and encourage others to get involved.

HeadStart is a five-year National Lottery funded programme set up by the Big Lottery Fund to give young people aged 10 to 16 the tools they need to overcome life’s challenges and prevent serious mental-health issues from developing.

Six local authority led HeadStart partnerships based in Blackpool, Cornwall, Hull, Kent, Newham and Wolverhampton are piloting new approaches to providing support when and where it is needed, focusing on developing young people’s emotional resilience from an early age.

Led by Dr Jessica Deighton, the Evidence Based Practice Unit at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and UCL is leading the Learning Team, which is working with Big Lottery Fund and the HeadStart partnerships to collect and evaluate evidence about what does and doesn’t work locally to benefit young people now and in the future. 

Partners working with the Evidence Based Practice Unit on this evaluation include the Child Outcomes Research Consortium, Common Room, London School of Economics and the University of Manchester.

The Learning Team are using a mixture of questionnaire and interview methods as part of the evaluation. Young people complete questionnaires every year to help track changes in how they are feeling and behaving over time. Professionals provide information regularly about what is being offered and professionals and young people take part in interviews annually to explore challenges and opportunities around delivery and what young people find helpful.

Earlier this year, the Learning Team published its first Evidence Briefing; an analysis of the results from the first HeadStart annual survey of 30,000 children.

Findings included:

  • 18.4% indicated they were experiencing emotional problems, and this was more common for girls than boys
  • 18.8% indicated they were exhibiting behavioural problems, and this was more common for boys than girls
  • The odds of experiencing mental health problems were increased for children who were eligible for free school meals, had special educational needs, were categorised as a ‘child in need’
  • The odds of experiencing a mental health problem were greater for older children
  • In many instances, being of an ethnic group other than White reduced the odds of experiencing a mental health problem

Congratulations to the whole team on this fantastic award!

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