This week’s guest blog is the second part to a blog published in September 2018 from June Stevenson, Chief Executive of Artis Foundation, a creative learning charity. Part one looked at the start of Artis’ evaluation journey. June explained why they are using wellbeing lens in their evaluation process. Here, part two outlines what they’ve learnt over the last year and changes they are making to their evaluation. This blog is part of our Measuring Wellbeing series.

Last autumn I wrote a blog outlining where the Artis Foundation had got to in its evaluation journey and our aspirations for 2018-19. Now, as the year draws to a close and I patiently harass teachers for end of year pupil assessment submissions, it’s a great time to pause and reflect on how we have done.

In this post, I want to share a few thoughts that are very specific to our wellbeing programmes, and the aims we had with evaluating those. 

Using the right wellbeing scale

One ambition was to roll out our Artis Bounce programme and build on our first year’s evaluation methods. We had already identified that the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scales (WEMWBS) wasn’t the right one and were going to try using the Stirling Children’s Well-being Scale (SCWBS), being aimed at younger children.

Connecting programme aims and evaluation tool

We duly rolled it out, but when we came to evaluating the programme in February we realised that we hadn’t spent long enough making the connection from the programme aims to the tool. 

The data showed us that some pupils did indeed report greater wellbeing, but equally many did not, and it wasn’t possible to claim wide-ranging success in improving wellbeing. But of course, that isn’t actually what Artis Bounce is about! It’s about helping children explore and understand a range of emotions, and develop language and confidence in articulating feelings – most of which is about longer-term understanding and resilience. 

Results in this showed:

I am aware of how I am feeling and my emotions

 

There was an 11.11% increase in the number of children who recorded “All the time” as their answer post course.

This equates to 43.2% of the total children who participated in the programme and an increase from 51 children pre programme to 70 post.

I can recognise the feelings or emotions other people are showing

 

8.69% increase in children reporting that they can recognise feelings or emotions other people are showing either “All the time” or “Quite a lot of the time” post programme (64.19% post programme).
I am confident in talking about how I am feeling

 

There was a 9.9% increase, from 26 to 43 children, post course answering with the response “All the time”

And an impressive 18.71% reduction in the responses from children citing “Never” post programme (from 29.82% pre to 11.11% post)

I can express a wide range of feelings and emotions with my body

 

Post course there was an increase of 12.2% of children stating that they could “All the time” or “Quite a lot of the time” express/show their feelings through the arts.

 

56.7% of the children post course said that they could “All the time” or “Quite a lot of the time” show their feelings through drama, movement or dance.

 

Overall results from the school’s survey for academic year 18/19:

  • 73% of children had a perceived increase in their confidence
  • 70% of children had a perceived increase in participation in Artis sessions
  • 65% of children had a perceived increase in their communication skills

Where we really hope to have impact is when these eight- and nine-year olds are at secondary school, and managing without the intervention of a referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

We have now got an evaluation tool in place that reflects these aims. It’s much more rewarding to use. And, of course, the qualitative interviews we have also been using are invaluable. 

One thing we heard loud and clear was how much teachers felt they were also learning from the sessions, and our newest iteration of the programme has a much stronger degree of teacher involvement.

Connecting funders and practitioners

Stepping back even further and thinking about our funders, another vital message we have realised is just how much we are valued for being a ‘connector’ between quite different worlds – bringing together health commissioners and Clinical Commissioning Groups, as well as knowing how to engage with classroom teachers and schools, while remaining an arts-based organisation. It’s a fascinating middle ground to operate in and we are relishing the chance to help different stakeholders come together to make meaningful differences for the children’s wellbeing.