A program to engage parents in the social and emotional development of their high-school-aged children will be tested for its academic impact in fourteen Victorian schools, through a partnership between VicHealth and Evidence for Learning, announced today.
'The Resilient Families program works with parents to increase their engagement with schools and supports students to develop their social skills and emotional intelligence both at school and at home,” Nithya Solomon, VicHealth Executive Lead for Innovation, said.
'The program covers issues such as adolescent communication, social problem solving and conflict resolution, providing common messages for both parents and young people. The program helps families improve harmony and reduce problems such as youth alcohol misuse by assisting teenagers and parents to agree on healthy rules that they can follow.
'Deakin University, which has developed the program, will roll it out in fourteen low socio-economic schools across Victoria to support 1,400 grade-eight students, through $100,000 of funding from VicHealth.
'A previous trial of the program found students became closer with their parents and teachers. Binge drinking reduced by 25 per cent across the whole student population, and depression reduced in at-risk students whose parents attended program activities.
'In a first-of-its-kind trial in Australia, Evidence for Learning is partnering with VicHealth to provide $80,000 for Western Sydney University to evaluate how the program influences academic performance,' Ms Solomon said.
Evidence for Learning Director Matthew Deeble said:
'There’s compelling evidence that Resilient Families has helped improve students’ wellbeing, and now we’re tracking the academic impacts, as well.
'We know that better academic results at school can make a big difference to the lives of young people, even well after they’ve graduated.
'If Resilient Families has an impact on academic achievement beyond its impact on wellbeing, schools can be confident that focusing on student wellbeing can support academic improvements. This is important information for schools to have as they make decisions about which programs to run in their classrooms.
'We’re pleased to commission an expert evaluation team from Western Sydney University to conduct an independent evaluation of this promising program,' Mr Deeble said.
Co-Founder of the Resilient Families program, Professor John Toumbourou of Deakin University, said:
'I’m looking forward to the findings of the independent evaluation. If it does confirm the program works to help students concentrate and achieve more in their studies, then it should generate increased take up of the program by schools and help more students to have rich and fulfilling lives.'
Evidence for Learning is collaborating with VicHealth to further develop and evaluate Deakin University’s Resilient Families program. The independent evaluation, commissioned by Evidence for Learning, will be conducted by the School of Education at Western Sydney University. The program development will be funded by VicHealth.
Evidence for Learning is incubated by Social Ventures Australia (SVA), with the support of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the Education Endowment Foundation (UK) as founding partners.