An Evaluation of the Personal Development Partnership

This report reviews the management and outcomes from the Personal Development Partnership programme.

Executive Summary

1. The Personal Development Partnership (PDP) commenced work in April 2010 and continued to run as this evaluation drew to a close in December 2012.

2. Funded by the Scottish Government, as part of the Cashback from Communities Scheme, the over-arching aim of PDP is to: -

"co-ordinate a young person's journey as they move away from negative destinations, such as disengaging with formal education or statutory provision and/or displaying offending behaviour, towards more positive destinations such as employment, education, training or volunteering."

3. PDP now operates in four 'hubs'; these are geographically determined areas around which partnership organisations, local authorities, schools police and other services coalesce. Initially there were three hubs - Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow - and as of April 2012 the fourth was launched in North Lanarkshire.

4. The partner organisations are the Princes Trust, Venture Scotland and Venture Trust. At the outset Fairbridge was a partner but this charity merged with the Princes Trust in 2011.

5. PDP is managed through a Steering Group, a Development Manager, with Positive Destination Advisors (PDAs) providing the on the ground intensive work with young people through the respective hubs. More Choices More Chances (MCMC) workers are the lead professionals in local authority localities whom seek referrals for PDP as appropriate. PDAs have actively cultivated referrals from a range of appropriate sources as the project has developed.

6. This is the final report of the evaluation which commenced in May 2010 and ran until December 2012. The evaluation approach was multi-method and offered regular feedback to enhance project development. The evaluation connected with, and generated numerous inputs from, PDP young people, staff, funders and other agencies. In total 186 interviews were conducted, 6 workshops and 10 meetings facilitated, 2 databases set up, 5 overviews of statistical data provided and 3 reports provided.

7. As at November 2012 a total of 524 young people had been referred to PDP. Of this number 374 (71%) 'engaged', that is, participated in activities and courses run across the partnership of PDP. Of the 374, 244 (65%) concluded a journey with 159 of that figure (65%) considered to have reached a positive destination, namely, a return to school education, further education and training, work, or volunteering. Eighty-five young people started a PDP journey but did not complete an agreed programme. One hundred and twenty nine cases of the 374 engaged remain open at the end of November 2012. One hundred and fifty one of the 524 referrals did not engage with the PDP despite contact with PDAs and relevant communications on opportunities.

8. The young people on PDP are on the cusp of offending or re-offending and 'dropping out' of routes to sustainable adult life. Calculating the costs is complex given the need to place a value on the intangibles such as the intense relationship between PDP, course providers, young people and their families. If we compare the costs of possible routes then, exclusion from school costs £300,000 each young person per annum; job seekers allowance £16,000 per annum. With the average PDP cost of £7,922 per person the saving are potentially large.

9. The profile of young people referred to PDP mirrored that of the target population and use of related services. Gender (by December 2012 it was 75% male and 25% female) and ethnicity (3% of referrals were people from ethnic minority backgrounds) mirror the trends documented in Reports and Orders handed down in 2011 as in the Criminal Justice Social Work.

10. The PDP is predicated upon intensive work with a PDA and a young person. Much of this support is in emotional as well as practical terms offered over coffee, by text, phone, social media and through networks and can be complex to document and hard to cost. This is in response to the lives of many young people referred to PDP, which are peppered with varying degrees of chaotic and tense family and school life, neighbourhood and peer groups, and need the intensive support offered by the PDA. Many young people have lost confidence, lack direction and cannot perceive a future for themselves in their communities. Some have already come to the attention of the children's panel and justice system.

11. Young people gained many immediate and intermediate outcomes from initial engagement with PDP. These were especially in areas such as developing new skills, independence, confidence and working with other people. PDP's own report on performance[1] demonstrates that most young people improve their personal and life skills. It has been increasingly important to acknowledge these, especially in the context of increased challenges of reaching positive destinations in the climate of the recession as competition for jobs and college places increases

12. Three hundred and twenty nine young people have set goals with 85% (281) fully achieving the goal set and a further 9% (31) partially achieving the goal set.

13. The evaluation found that the young people greatly appreciate the one to one work with PDAs along with the opportunities for group work. The multifaceted approach of the PDP, offering a range of courses and options across the partnership found favour with the majority of young people.

14. The following key learning points emerge from the final review of evaluation data: -

  • Working across four organisations and three large geographical localities, at the outset presented hurdles to common agreement on management structures, definitions (such as differences in provision of outdoor activity based courses) and the focus of the project. We recommended that written agreements with partners at the outset are drafted, agreed and monitored.
  • Central to organisation and delivery is project management. On the appointment of a Development Manager, and a review of management and governance structure in February 2012, a marked increase in co-ordination, communication and referrals was documented. Two thirds of referrals occurred in the last year and this is evidence of consolidation, knowledge and co-ordination maturing and operating.
  • Many are what are commonly termed 'high tariff' young people; they have complex needs which require intensive one to work. Project workers want to be working with young people, rather than concerned with structures. However, the speed with which PDP was launched resulted in provision for under 16s - now recognised as a major group for referrals - being under-developed and only available through one organisation. Thus it took time to ensure that provision could be adequately developed across the age span. We recommend that a scoping of needs and provision is undertaken prior to starting up.
  • A review of referrals and outcomes found that the largest categories are young people (a) not wanting support any longer and (b) those giving no reason for not engaging. These are the main groups for increasing the success rates for PDP and the partnership should consider opportunities to address these categories of young people in order to increase capacity.
  • Documenting who is referred, what their journey is and the stages of this, requires a common database. This was not up and running until two years into the project. Again this should be available from the outset to allow for tracking and partnership working on cases.
  • Underpinning outset agreements is an appreciation of the ethos and values of a project. Working through risks and assumptions (contribution analysis) at the commencement, with regular reviews, can aid development, monitoring and reflection. We recommend the establishment of 'criteria for success' and a matrix of risks and assumptions which are reviewed at least once a year.
  • Case study work with young people, which included interviews with family members, providers, PDAs, and other relevant individuals, proved invaluable in offering insights into the multifaceted nature of issues for young people. Taking time to document and reflect on journeys enhanced understanding of and support for PDAs and young people.
  • Monitoring and evaluation are tools which can aid reflection, re-configuration and change. Regular feedback and workshops allowed all stakeholders to document and take stock of practices, their intended and unintended consequences. Regular review is imperative to meeting goals, and reassessing these.
  • Young people do not like gaps in provision between partner courses or after completing courses and this can prove detrimental to engagement and ensuring personal development is sustained and built upon.


Email: Ban Cavanagh

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