Evidence for Learning (E4L) has published the results of a pilot study into the feasibility of the health and well-being program Resilient Families Plus.
Resilient Families Plus targets the social and learning outcomes of students in their initial Secondary school years. Support for students’ health and well-being and engaging parents in the process is crucial to students’ learning development.
The small-scale pilot in two schools in Victoria found that Resilient Families Plus did not have an extra impact on students’ academic self-concept in Maths and English and in academic resilience. There was evidence that students who initially reported lower levels of academic self-concept and academic resilience improved slightly after being involved in the program. The evaluation was not able to determine which elements of the program were effective as schools adapted the curriculum with other concurrently-run health and well-being programs in their schools.
Resilient Families Plus was designed as a 10-week program for Year 8 students who receive a 50-minute session once a week. The session was delivered by teachers who attended a one-day training session. Parents participated in small group discussions facilitated by trained school staff or external experts to support adolescent health. There was also a parent reading brochure to encourage daily 10-minute home reading sessions and parent committee training to explore the benefits of family-school activities.
The two participating schools in this study had a high proportion of families from low socio-economic backgrounds. Resilient Families Plus was developed by Deakin University. The pilot evaluation was independently conducted by Western Sydney University. It was commissioned and co-funded by Evidence for Learning and VicHealth.
Evidence for Learning Director Matthew Deeble said:
‘We funded this trial to advance our collective understanding about how well-being programs improve resilience and might also support greater academic achievement.
What we’ve learned from this pilot is that to be effective, a resilience program needs to be a good fit for, and responsive to, the particular needs of each school community. And that a strong commitment is required by leaders, teachers, young people and their families, which can be difficult in the busy life of a Secondary school.
But the effort could well be worth it, especially for those who begin with low levels of confidence.’
The full findings and ‘practitioner-friendly’ resources are available.