We Rise Futures successful says independent evaluation

We Rise were commissioned by Lambeth’s Economic Inclusion Team to deliver a one-year pilot programme of vocational activity that wrapped around the curriculum and was tailored to the needs of 60 at risk year 9 students from two Lambeth schools.

The Council’s independent external evaluation report found it had been successful. The report praised the We Rise team for their commitment, inspiration and willingness to learn. It said the young people on project were fortunate.

The report praised the engagement of employers which meant students had 105 encounters with 20 employers representing 9 different sectors and more than 33 different occupations.

It highlights two big themes from the programme: its impact on increasing students confidence and the way it enabled them to explore and reconstruct their sense of self.

The report found students gained a number of key benefits:

  • exploring their vocational identity

  • increased self-confidence

  • challenging their mindset towards learning

  • recognition that effort is necessary for achievement.

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The following are extracts of key findings.

Summary

The evaluation found clear evidence that the programme has been successful.

96% of the students were found to have made progress along an 8 stage pathway.

The programme supported the personal development of the students and effective careers information and advice had been provided through 1:1 coaching, workshops and meaningful encounters with employers.

In addition to the focus on mid-low academic achievers, a strength of the programme was the link from the workshops and the employer engagement to the coaching sessions. These provided valuable opportunities to review and reflect on the activities and levels of engagement.

Demonstrating its significance, schools had integrated the pilot into the wider career guidance programme and it contributed towards their attaining the Quality in Careers Standard award.

The mix of visits, coaching and workshops, including students preparing a ‘Story of Me’ for presenting to others, enabled students to enhance their employability skills and increased their understanding of the labour market across a range of sectors.

Why it matters

Young people face increasingly difficult challenges to establish careers and find stable employment as they transition from adolescence to adulthood.

Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and marginalised racial and ethnic backgrounds face especially difficult times. Adolescent development occurs as a result of an interactive process between an individual and their broader environment, and so engagement with employers offers an intervention that can optimize the young person’s life chances by building a mutually influential relationship.

We Rise’s approach

We Rise are a team of people committed to enabling young people to increase their life chances through inspiring and cultivating good passions, a team prepared to take risks, able to learn from their reflections and willing to adapt and develop their ideas in response to feedback.

The young people with whom they came into contact through this project were fortunate.

Integral to the success of the project was the sustainable engagement of employers: those seeking to share their insight and experience of the world of work; to give something back.

In addition to learning about different vocations, travelling across the city provided a chance to gain orienteering skills and develop a greater sense of independence and self-reliance: attributes central to survival in today’s uncertain labour market.

Activities engaged the young people, emphasised the relevance of their learning and stimulated a sense that from their explorations they could identify their vocation within the world of work; a place where they could have a sense of belonging.

Programme delivery

We Rise adopted a professional, systematic and structured approach to establishing the project.

The programme of employer-led activities and work based learning ran alongside the workshops and 1:1 coaching sessions providing a holistic programme that included support with any personal issues that may place the young person at risk of becoming NEET.

It was wrapped around curriculum and tailored to the needs of the students with the active engagement of employers

As a result of employer engagement with the programme there were 105 encounters with 20 employers representing 9 different sectors and more than 33 different occupations. Ten employer visits were arranged with each student participating in at least one.

Students learnt about career options and the world of work from the experience, and meeting employed adults:

The success of the visits owed much to careful planning and ongoing communications between We Rise and the employer, combined with a willingness by We Rise to work in partnership with employers.

Impact

Students benefited from participating in the programme, especially in terms of exploring their vocational identity and increased self-confidence.

It enabled them to begin challenging their mindset towards learning and construct a more positive relationship between ability and effort in achieving success.

Students who participated in the programme have a growing recognition that effort is necessary for achievement.

It is reassuring that the evaluation of a pilot project found any sign of movement towards a more open mindset among participants within such a brief span of time.

Coaching sessions provided an appropriate but intensive level of support that was complementary to the curriculum.

The sessions were used to encourage regular reflection on learning from workshops and other activities. Feedback evidenced the value of the sessions.

Constructing an occupational identity is frequently an aspect that students find disturbing and requires the assessment of one’s skills, interests and talent. Coaching sessions provided students with a safe space for serious consideration and self-assessment of their abilities and future goals.

All except 1 of the 44 who completed the final assessment questionnaire said they made progress as a result of participating in the programme and even this young person responded positively when asked about whether they felt more confident.

The percentage of students who had considered a range of careers had increased.

Key themes

Two significant themes emerged. One was an increase in confidence. The other, the exploration and reconstruction of self in the light of one’s own sense of self and the perception of significant others to establish a coherent and consistent sense of identity.

Feeling confident is all about knowing that you are good and capable of facing life problems. It is an internal sense of overall positive self-worth and self-efficacy. Every student has their own road to travel but needs adults to walk with them to overcome obstacles, emotional, physical and cognitive

Increasing confidence is important because it enables you to take risks and so encounter more opportunities. It also reduces levels of anxiety and increases our sense of happiness: you are worthy, regardless of your social or economic status.

At the heart of this project was a sense of being there at crucial turning points in these young people’s lives, not to assess but to listen, not to provide answers but to catalyse a recalibrating of outlook and self-efficacy.


If you’d like a copy of the full report please contact abigail@werise.org.uk