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Scottish Government Health Directorates Chief Scientist Office

Whole school interventions addressing multiple adolescent risk behaviours: a feasibility study Researchers Professor Lyndal Bond, Professor Daniel Wight, Dr Marion Henderson, Paul Ballard

and fostering a strong, safe community environment rather than implementation of stand alone health and wellbeing programmes. Conclusions

Background/Aim The school environment can affect young people beyond their capacity to learn and succeed academically. There is evidence suggesting that changing a school’s climate or ethos can affect a number of health and wellbeing outcomes including substance abuse and anti-social behaviour. However, these effects are not currently well understood, particularly within the Scottish educational context. Our study aimed to assess current approaches to improving school ethos in Scottish secondary schools at a whole school level and examine the feasibility of evaluating such approaches. Project Outline/Methodology In order to better understand the contextual factors surrounding school ethos and health and wellbeing we conducted qualitative interviews with 15 people who have responsibility for implementing and supporting education policy within Scotland, including members of Education Scotland and education officials in six Local Authorities. From these interviews we identified four promising secondary case study schools. In these schools we interviewed a further 25 respondents including classroom teachers, senior management and support staff. Key Results School ethos was seen as fundamental not only to health and wellbeing but also to academic attainment. We found a strong policy and education context within Scotland for the development of approaches to improve ethos and a wide and varied range of promising current practices. However, there were challenges for schools due to the nonprescriptive nature of the Scottish curriculum. Evaluation was accepted as necessary and desirable although little evidence was found to suggest that evaluation is routinely an integral part of educational developments. Case study schools demonstrated a range of promising practices at whole school, classroom and individual level. These practices and activities focused on improving relationships, engaging pupils in school

A wide range of approaches to improve school ethos was found along with a strong need to prioritise health and wellbeing in secondary schools. Practices in schools were focused on creating a supportive environment for their students and staff rather than implementation of programmes. No individual programme was identified that was ready for rigorous evaluation. What does this study add to the field? Many of the practices identified in this study are closely related to the literature on school connectedness, engagement and attachment although schools themselves may not clearly articulate this link between practice and theory. Implications for practice or policy This study, as with others, indicates that we may need to rethink or move away from considering the development and evaluation of discrete programmes or packages to improve ethos, to developing approaches that facilitate schools’ capacity to explicitly choose, implement and reflect on evidencebased practices or practices aligned to relevant theories. Where to next This study has led to the development, and funding, of a five year trial of Social Emotional Education and Development (SEED) in Scottish Primary schools which focuses on providing schools with local data about their students and supporting schools to choose activities and build on their practices to address the needs identified in the data at the whole school, classroom and individual level. Further details from Professor Lyndal Bond MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit 4 Lilybank Gardens G12 8RZ Email:

Chief Scientist Office, St Andrews House, Regent Road, Edinburgh, EH1 3DG Tel:0131 244 2248

Executive Summary:Whole school interventions addressing multiple adolescent risk behaviours