An Evaluation of the Personal Development Partnership

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

Immediate and Intermediate Outcomes

1.44 This section outlines the immediate and intermediate outcomes from the project including the participation of young people, the partnership approach to delivering a range of activities, young people's immediate gains from the project and skill development. It assesses the additionality offered by the partnership approach to the project.

1.45 Creating a PDP Journey within the PDP Partnership is dependent on the age groups the PDAs are working with and the availability of a journey pathway. Sometimes there have not been suitable pathways for some young people, although the development of Venture Trust, Venture Scotland and Princes Trust new under-16 programmes allied to Fairbridge's provision has, for the first time, created a 'Journey' for the under 16s.

1.46 The project also aimed to link young people with external opportunities. The emphasis has been on putting together journeys within partnership provision; incorporating external resources have been less prioritised. However, in order to avoid gaps in journeys for young people there has been a move to look beyond the partners in creating a journey.

1.47 The Fairbridge programme has been the most used by the PDP, with 45% young people attending over the life of the project but, this represents a drop from its highest proportion at the end of May 2011. Fairbridge was the one partner who catered extensively for the Under 16 age group which until this year have formed the majority of PDP referrals. There have been notable changes in the provision form PDP partners especially in the past year with Venture Trust developing more under-16s provision and Venture Scotland creating a more flexible entry system for their programmes and more use of a wider range of Princes Trust programmes.

1.48 It should be noted that 26 young people had been sent on external non-PDP partner courses since the project started: 11 of those in the last year. Initially this was a mechanism to keep young people engaged while waiting for partner courses but the course selected had a value to the young person and the work they would do with PDP. Within this the PDP has started to use the wider Cashback programme as part of the young person's journey.

1.49 Course Completions: All three hubs achieved over 60% course completions from their referrals. There was no significant difference between the justice (66%, 98 people) and non-justice group (62%, 94 people) in the number of course completions.

1.50 The young people in the discussion groups liked the workers and other young people they met at PDP. Those participants mentioned particular activities that they had enjoyed doing, learning from, and having fun: 'keeping you busy' 'active' and 'with a routine'. 'It felt good doing something I liked'. For example, those who had been on the Spirit course really valued the experience. They liked seeing the changes in themselves: 'becoming an adult', 'taking responsibility for themselves and others' and 'treating others with respect'. There were some people and activities which individuals did not like and occasionally some over-long introductions to courses, but overall the young people felt that they were moving forward and that PDP was helping them to 'get on the right track'.

1.51 The young people thought that their PDAs were 'sound' because they listened and helped them. As one young person summed the experience as:

'My favourite thing would just be meeting up with the PDA, when you're not feeling too good, just go for a coffee… if I didn't meet the PDA, or didn't get involved with it, I don't actually know what I'd be doing right now. I'd probably be in a job that I didn't like… Because, before I actually met the PDA, I was obviously, not on a good track, doing stupid stuff, and I think it's just matured me… I'm actually responsible for myself and others… Like, knowing that it's not all about yourself.' (Young person, discussion group)

1.52 This is perhaps unsurprising, and there is some evidence that allocation of a key worker might be more important than the diversionary activities offered by programmes like PDP (CRG research 2006). A supportive relationship, with a focus on goals may be a key ingredient in helping young people to get on track with their lives.

1.53 PDAs negotiate a line between providing support and encouraging independence for example deciding whether to support young people by accompanying them to an activity or meeting versus getting them to make their own way and risking that they might not turn up. For many of the young people involved there is a lack of informal support in their lives, and the PDA is plugging this gap. However, building on this to ensure future independence can be difficult.

1.54 In addition to supporting the young person, on occasions the PDAs provided support for the parents and wider family network of a young person. Whilst this enhanced support for the young person it also provides evidence of the ways in which the family and home context can enable or pose hurdles to a young person's engagement. For example, in the case of Ross, a young person with boredom, anxiety, and attention issues the PDA recognised a lack of family support and intervened to discuss the potential benefits of PDP with his family; 'he's used up all the goodwill from his gran and his other gran and his relatives and he's got a really strained relationship with his dad and his mum now. They used to be a little bit more supportive, so that's causing anxiety within where he's living and he sort of moves from friend to friend as well.' Often young people are referred to PDP when family support is at a low ebb and necessitates a broad approach to PDA work. This appears to support the findings of Nutall et al's (1998) review of what works in reducing criminality, which suggests the need for a broad-based approach that includes support in all the different domains of a child's life including their family life.

1.55 In other cases the PDA seems to be encouraging the young person to rise above their family's expectations of their abilities. This seems to support the findings of Nutall et al's (1998) review of what works in reducing criminality, which suggests the need for a broad-based approach that includes support in all the different domains of a child's life including their family life.

1.56 Many programmes were tailored appropriately to young people's needs. However, young people disliked gaps in the PDP journey, between courses or when they were waiting for the next step. Gaps in the journey were often difficult for young people who spoke of having to wait until a course started. Having something to get up and do on a regular basis is something the young people have found key to be feeling positive about themselves and moving towards a positive destination. Thus, gaps between courses left them without any regular activity and made it easier for them to revert to old patterns of behaviour and socialising which were counterproductive.

1.57 There was also some mismatch with the level of qualifications than young people already had and those on offer through PDP partners and college courses - sometimes young people already had higher qualifications than those being offered in the college courses which was a problem for them.

1.58 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.

1.59 The partnership delivered a full programme of activities and skill development for YP, offering wider range of activities than single agency approaches as can be seen by the pattern of provision across the partners in Table 5 below. Nearly three quarters of young people (72%, 198) had been on single partner journeys to date (Sept 2012). The most common pattern is use of courses from two separate partners. The most common partner journey was that of Venture Trust and Fairbridge which in part still reflects the influence of the under-16 group. Venture Scotland figured in 17 of the journeys a notable increase on their position at the end of 2011 (Interim report). This is in large part due to the changes the organisation has made to its entry criteria that allows more young people to come in at different stages in their courses. It is also a reflection of PDP having more young people over-16 and thus eligible for VS courses.

Table 5: Added value: number of partner courses utilised in young people's journeys

No of partner courses in journey Hub 1 Hub 2 Hub 3 TOTAL
1 86 67 45 198
2 24 17 11 52
3 2 5 5 12
4 ** 3 0 0 3
1 + ep* 1 5 0 6
2 + ep 0 1 2 3
3 partners + ep 0 0 1 1
TOTAL 116 95 64 275

*ep = external provision outside partnership
** it was only possible to use 4 partners before the merger


Email: Ban Cavanagh

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