It's, like, trying to make us better people - My FRIENDS Youth final evaluation report

Publication Details

This evaluation report shows that the My FRIENDS Youth Resilience Programme aligns with government strategies, is consistent with the New Zealand Curriculum key competencies and the health and physical education curriculum, and can be effectively facilitated by teachers for all Year 9 students, including priority learners.

Author(s): Jo MacDonald, Roseanna Bourke, Melanie Berg and Jacky Burgon, New Zealand Council for Educational Research. Report prepared for the Ministry of Education.

Date Published: December 2016

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This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads' inset box).  For links to related publications/ information that may be of interest please refer to the 'Where to Find Out More' inset box.

Executive Summary

The My FRIENDS Youth Resilience Programme

We learnt that everyone uses different strategies to relax; we learnt how to reduce stress like before a test or something. I've got new ways of coping with people I don't like very much.
(Year 9 student)

The My FRIENDS Youth Resilience Programme (referred to throughout this report as My FRIENDS Youth) was developed to support young people aged 12−16 years to increase their resilience by developing knowledge, strategies and skills to cope with difficult and challenging times in their lives. It is a 10-session programme based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) principles, and it was developed in Australia by Dr Paula Barrett as part of a suite of FRIENDS programmes.

My FRIENDS Youth is designed to be implemented in school, hospital and community settings and may be adapted for individual therapy. In New Zealand My FRIENDS Youth was facilitated as a universal programme for all Year 9 students in schools participating in the trial.

As a component of two key programmes of work—Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) and the Prime Minister's Youth Mental Health Project—My FRIENDS Youth was introduced to New Zealand secondary schools by the Ministry of Education (the Ministry) in 2013. It was trialled with Year 9 students in 2013 and 2014 as part of the health and physical education curriculum. A total of 26 schools participated in the trial: 10 began in 2013 and a further 16 joined the trial in 2014.

This evaluation

In 2013 the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) was commissioned, in partnership with Associate Professor Roseanna Bourke from Victoria University of Wellington, to undertake an evaluation of My FRIENDS Youth in the New Zealand trial schools. This is the final evaluation report of the programme.

The evaluation focused on whether the programme was implemented as it was intended to be (implementation fidelity), the progress made towards short-term outcomes for teachers and students, and the degree of fit with the New Zealand educational and cultural context. This report analyses quantitative and qualitative data from the 26 schools that trialled the programme in 2014. These data include Wellbeing@School surveys completed by over 2,000 students before and after the programme, a survey of 31 teachers, and case study interviews with 17 staff and 160 students at five diverse secondary schools.

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