Exploring the synergies between the THRIVE framework and an award winning primary school health promotion programme – Project HE:RO.
Evolve is a social enterprise that has been helping children to achieve their potential since 2003. It does this by recruiting, training and managing a new school workforce called Health Mentors who they deploy within the education community. Evolve’s programme for primary schools is called Project HE:RO (Health Engagement: Real Outcomes) and it is the current recipient of the Royal Society for Public Health’s Healthy Lifestyle Award.
Health Mentors typically work with the most challenging 10% of the pupil population across the duration of a full academic year. Depending upon the size of school and budget available, Health Mentors work with between one and five schools per week with some schools accessing support from multiple Health Mentors simultaneously. Project HE:RO involves Evolve and senior school leaders creating bespoke success objectives for Health Mentors to achieve during the year that are link to school development plans. Typically, these objectives are based around attendance, behaviour and academic progress and are achieved using a timetable of activities delivered by Health Mentors that improve the physical, emotional and cognitive health and wellbeing of schools’ most vulnerable pupils.
Seven Sisters Primary School in Haringey was able to access co-funding support from the alternative commissioning team at the local authority and have recently started their third year of the programme. Year 2 included a pilot of Evolve’s new cognitive health programme to address the rising number of children at the school who are exhibiting mental health concerns.
Using it’s bespoke wellbeing monitoring tool called the Wellbeing Compass, Evolve tracked the impact of its interventions on the beneficiary cohort against the rest of the school population. Fig 1 shows the improved wellbeing scores reported by pupil beneficiaries in navy (pupil premium) and yellow (non pupil premium) in comparison with their peers.
Evolve also assessed the impact of its programme on the cognitive health of pupils versus control groups and the overall effect on school performance linked to data held on the school’s management information system. The analysis of this data is still ongoing but will be published by the end of October 2018.
Project HE:RO has close alignment with the THRIVE framework and i-Thrive Model of Care. The methodology employed is one of early intervention and has a robust evidence base from organisations such as Leeds Beckett University and LKMco. It has a strong focus on outcomes and impact is tracked throughout the process.
For pupils that need more support, Evolve’s Wellbeing Compass identifies those that would benefit most from the service and the sustained nature of the programme means that effective relationships are developed between children and their Health Mentor.
The partnership approach used to co-design and implement bespoke programmes for each school leads to strong relationships between Evolve, pupils, parents and the school, minimising risk and strengthening support networks.
Health Mentors bring extra capacity to schools at a time when they are being asked to do more but with less financial resource. This means that schools are able to move upstream and provide valuable support to children at risk of developing mental health problems. The introduction of this new workforce within schools also provides a triage approach whereby Health Mentors are able to work with certain children and situations but make referrals to colleagues where appropriate.
The demand for Health Mentors in primary and secondary schools continues to grow and Evolve has responded to the recent interest by creating an opportunity for teaching support staff such as teaching assistants and learning mentors to complete its Health Mentor Training Programme to help schools build internal capacity for health and wellbeing improvements. The training programme is eligible for apprenticeship levy funding to make it even more attractive to schools.
Should you wish to explore the opportunity of using an Evolve Health Mentor in your school, or finding out more about the Health Mentor Training Programme for any of your staff, please contact John Bishop using firstname.lastname@example.org.