Extended Support Programme: overview
Oarsome Chance has grown remarkably in its first few years of delivering activity programmes to young people who have disengaged from mainstream learning. In that time we have recognised that our successful engagement with young people with complex needs stems from a unique approach to our service delivery.
The initial three-year phase for the Extended Support Programme, or ESP, was launched in September 2020 with the help of funding from the Berkeley Foundation and The Tudor Trust. ESP's aim is to better understand how we can extend our support to the young people we work with, with a focus on supporting their mental health needs. And further, to examine how OC successfully engages with young people and use those findings to inform our development as we grow. The programme will continue to run indefinitely as an essential part of our programme of activities.
Our ESP Project Lead, came to us with many years of experience working with young people with complex needs and professional mental health expertise. They initially produced the ESP strategy document, to map out the aims of the project - to view the full ESP Strategy, click here.
ESP evaluation framework
One of the early aims of ESP is to establish an evaluation framework. This initial research seeks to understand what engages young people in education and vocational learning, keeps them involved, motivated and achieving to a point that they are autonomous, confident and capable. Through our current 'Measuring The Good' imapct measurement, we know that OC programmes help young people feel more understood, safe and valued. However we are still learning about what engages young people who attend Oarsome Chance and why it is successful in transitioning them back into education or learning. This is what the current ESP research is seeking to understand more fully.
Young people and staff have all provided invaluable contributions to the initial evaluation planning, with feedback collated through observation, interaction, feedback questionnaires and interviews. The goal is to understand what we think is happening, from the point a young person enters the doors at Oarsome Chance until the point at which they leave.
The nine key areas that have been collaboratively identified so far are:
- Peer leadership
- Staff Inclusion (attachment and belonging)
- Education and skills
- Relationships and social competence
- Tangible skills – other (sailing, bike mending)
- Confidence and self-worth
- Emotional self-care, well-being, coping strategies
- Boundaries, self-management
The next stage in developing the ESP evaluation framework will be to design the blend of methods required to measure against the identified key areas. This will incorporate the development of a 9-point 'COG' wheel outcomes tool (or measure).
Another key aim of ESP is to enable and support staff who are working with challenging behaviour in young people who may have experienced trauma. To equip them with an understanding of what may be causing this behaviour and to provide them with a basic skill set to be able to manage safely in difficult situations for which a staff training plan which is now underway.