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Back to Impact report 2022-23

Our holistic impact in schools

The case for coaching more than catch up

The Fair Education Alliance is clear that our education system is not working for every child and needs longer-term systemic changes. If the core purpose of education is to prepare every young person, no matter their background, for work and life, we believe we must value their wellbeing, skills and inclusion alongside academic attainment.
–The Fair Education Alliance1

The Fair Education Alliance highlights how education should be fostering “a sense of belonging and opportunities to develop… passions.” Instead, we are seeing worsening wellbeing and disengagement as social and emotional needs go unmet.2 In the autumn term of 2022, persistent absence rose to 24%3 and focus groups conducted by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) found that anxiety is the biggest driver.4

Over 1 in 6 children aged 7-16 had a probable mental health disorder in 2022, up from 1 in 9 in 2017. They are less likely to feel safe at school, report enjoyment of learning or having a friend for support.5 The CSJ heard the need for a greater focus on mental health and wellbeing and the value of a whole-school approach, which puts the child at the centre. Focus group participants added: “Young people need an adult to confide in who they can trust.” They highlighted the benefits of a third party, separate from school and home.

City Year UK’s role in school has always been to provide just such holistic support and our programme is evolving to ensure that we provide an intentional counter to the attainment gap in the context of these broad and magnified challenges.

Based on feedback and experiences of practitioners and partners in the UK and US, we have developed a student success coaching framework so that our mentors continue to be embedded in schools and remain central to creating welcoming, safe and engaging learning environments where all pupils can thrive.

1. Fair Education Alliance, 2023, Fair Education Manifesto: achieving a fair education in England
2. Fair Education Alliance, 2023, Fair Education Manifesto: achieving a fair education in England
3. House of Commons Education Committee, 2023, Persistent absence and support for disadvantaged pupils
4. Centre for Social Justice, 2023, Lost and Not Found; How severe absence became endemic in England’s schools
5. Centre for Social Justice, 2023, Lost and Not Found; How severe absence became endemic in England’s schools

Student success coaching

I have seen clearly that children aren’t absent from school because they don’t want to learn. On the contrary they are desperate to learn but every day thousands of children find themselves without the support that they need to engage in education and attend school.”
–Dame Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England

Key to student success coaching is the connection between mentor and pupil. All other drivers contribute directly or indirectly to this developmental relationship, underpinned by trust, genuine care and belonging. Mentors challenge pupils to take accountability for their own growth, involve them in decision making and expand their sense of what is possible, while providing support and understanding. Crucially, a mentor is someone to talk to who isn’t a teacher and can elevate pupil voice to school staff.

student success coaching framework infographic

[Pupil] speaks openly with her mentor about her worries and struggles. They are working on her aspirations and giving her purpose behind what she is doing. [Pupil] trusts her mentor and this support helps her to engage more positively in her lessons.”

Teacher Partner school

Additional key programme developments in 2022-2023

Tailoring our model to best meet need

Updated menu of support for schools to ensure we offer the right interventions for their pupils and fill gaps in provision.

Timely data to inform provision

Improved reporting; termly sharing of data on the difference we make to pupils, to inform planning for subsequent terms.

school snapshot Bolton St Catherine's

individual pupils school snapshot infographic

Measuring social and emotional skills

Student success coaching integrates social and emotional skills building from the beginning. Mentors offer broad provision during lessons, clubs and at break time and are trained to observe pupils across 8 competencies using the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA). The appropriate support is then tailored to each child depending on whether they are rated as showing ‘strength’, are ‘typical’ or in ‘need.

DESSA competencies

Research in the US also points to the importance of the composite measure to pupil outcomes.

infographic - impact on focus list pupils 2022-23

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