Get into Summer 2021: qualitative evaluation

Get into Summer 2021 qualitative evaluation.

7. Summary of key learning from Get into Summer

This final chapter reflects on the learning from Get into Summer about what children, young people, parents and carers want from summer activities and how they can support them, and on barriers to participation and how these might be addressed. It draws both on the evidence presented in previous chapters, and on direct suggestions for improvement from interviewees.

How do holiday activities support children, young people and families?

Children, young people, parents and carers' accounts of their experiences of Get into Summer, discussed in this report, have highlighted the multiple different ways in which they felt holiday activities had benefited and supported them. Although exact experiences varied between different families and between different localities, there was evidence that taking part in Get into Summer activities had benefited both children and parents' wellbeing in multiple ways. It had enabled them to have fun and create memories (both separately and together), provided structure and routine after an extremely challenging year, boosted their confidence through new activities or being able to take part in activities independently, and provided opportunities to reconnect with peers, other adults, and, in some cases, the wider community. For those transitioning to a new school, activities could help build links with new classmates, teachers, and school buildings. Many activities had also provided opportunities to be outside or in nature, particularly benefiting those who had been encouraged to get outside more, or to return to more outdoor or physical activity for the first time since the pandemic.

All these benefits were particularly important for children, young people and families in the key target groups, whose accounts of their experiences over the previous year confirmed the statement at the start of this report, that the pandemic had disproportionately impacted on those already more disadvantaged in Scottish society.

Key features of Get into Summer activities that had helped maximise positive impacts for families included:

  • The range and choice of activities offered. The appetite from children and young people to try new things and to have as much choice as possible within activities was evident, both from young people who had done new things through Get into Summer, and those whose experience had involved less variety or perceived choice (even where they were generally positive about the activities they had taken part in).
  • The combination of different delivery models, which had helped extend the reach, inclusiveness and impact of Get into Summer. These included: funding families on lower incomes or who might not find it easy to take part in group activities because of disabilities or ASN to go on trips or holidays themselves, bespoke provision for particular target groups, and universal activities offered in a wider range of locations (including greater local rather than 'central' provision).
  • Partnership working, which had both facilitated the delivery of wide-ranging activities at speed and extended the reach of activities to key target groups to whom local authorities, in particular, might not previously have been able to offer the same level of holiday provision.
  • Involving children and young people in shaping activities. As discussed in chapters 2 and 6, partners recognised the benefits of being able to involve children and young people in shaping holiday activities, and wanted to do more of this in future, when they hoped to have a longer lead-in time.
  • Food provision. Partners viewed the free food offer as key to supporting participation among lower income families. Although the financial impact of the food provision was a less dominant theme among the families we spoke to, it was nonetheless viewed as something that had enhanced their experiences of Get into Summer.
  • Provision of transport. Where free transport had been part of the Get into Summer offer, this had helped enhance accessibility and reduced the stress on parents and carers to arrange transport.
  • A flexible approach to funding. As discussed in Chapter 6, partners' ability to deliver a programme that reflected these key features was supported by a flexible central approach from the Scottish Government that allowed for creativity and responsiveness in planning and delivery, including responsiveness to children and young people's preferences and needs. This flexibility had also enabled partners to try new things; Get into Summer was seen as a catalyst for learning about how to extend the reach and impact of holiday provision, particularly for the target groups.

What are the barriers and how can these be addressed?

This evaluation found many examples of successful efforts by delivery partners to ensure that their Get into Summer activities were as accessible as possible to all children and young people, many of which are reflected in the discussion above on the features that maximised positive impacts. In particular, removing financial barriers had clearly had a significant impact for low income families. However, it nonetheless remains the case that families in the target groups are likely to experience more barriers to attending holiday provision. Chapters 3 to 5 highlight a number of areas where further action may be needed to ensure holiday provision is as inclusive as possible in future, including:

  • Ensuring appropriate staffing to enable children with disabilities or ASN to participate fully (without relying on parental attendance). Many partners and local authorities had made very considerable efforts to ensure that children with disabilities or ASN could access provision. However, the findings also highlight the challenges associated in overcoming all the barriers this group may face, for all such families. As discussed in Chapter 6, the short lead-in time was seen as having presented particular challenges for some partners around recruiting appropriately trained staff to support children with disabilities or ASN. However, even with a longer lead-in time, this was perceived as a potential challenge, and may be an area where more support and sharing of potential solutions is required.
  • Ensuring that transport barriers are considered across all provision. Although there were many positive examples of efforts to remove transport barriers to attendance, there were nonetheless examples where it had remained a barrier, if not to attendance, then to maximising the impact for families. Consideration of non-financial barriers – such as anxiety or accessibility related to using public transport – may be as important as removing financial barriers. In terms of planning future holiday provision, it is worth noting that from January 2022, children and young people under the age of 22 will be eligible for free bus travel in Scotland. This may increase the amount of money available either for activities, or for private transport for those who cannot use public transport to access them (either because of variations in provision or other barriers, such as anxiety).
  • Continuing to develop local understanding of how to reach children, young people and families from diverse ethnic backgrounds. As discussed in Chapter 6, while there were various examples of partners working with specific organisations or groups that work with children or families from minority ethnic backgrounds, there did appear to be some concern among local and national partners that they had not engaged as many children, young people and families from minority ethnic backgrounds as they would have liked. This suggests that there may be a continued need to improve learning around what works to extend the reach of holiday provision to different minority ethnic groups, perhaps particularly for areas where minority ethnic families are more geographically dispersed.
  • Considering how activities are advertised and accessed, to maximise reach and avoid digital exclusion. As discussed in Chapter 6, the short lead-in time was considered a barrier to partners advertising their Get into Summer offer as much as they would have liked this year. This was reflected in comments from parents and carers and children, who noted that they felt they had 'stumbled across' the offer and thought it should have been more widely publicised. It was suggested that future marketing, as well as booking systems, needs to take account of those who are not routinely online or have no digital access, to avoid inadvertently excluding families from key target groups.
  • Improving what is offered in terms of holiday provision for older children. As discussed in Chapter 3, both partner providers and children, young people and parents suggested that developing age-appropriate activities that appealed to teenagers was a particular challenge for some areas. This may be a further area for sharing learning between partners of what works, as well as a priority for future consultation and co-creation.

In addition to actions to remove specific barriers, there was a general perception among partners that having more lead-in time would enable them to plan and build partnerships to reach diverse children, young people and families. Among children, young people, parents and carers, it was suggested that families might benefit more from longer activity sessions, allowing children to do more different activities and parents to get more of a break. There was a clear appetite from families interviewed for this evaluation for activities to be offered across other holiday periods, or even year-round.



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