A program evaluation is currently being undertaken by Our Watch. Students who participate in the program and staff who attend the professional learning workshops are asked to complete pre and post program questionnaires as part of the evaluation strategy. Some results are outlined below in the Project achievement and successes section.
The project began with engaging stakeholders in the schools and forming a reference committee to review the materials chosen for the project. The project was delayed from the original proposal due to COVID-19. Although the school closures were relatively brief for students, schools were essentially closed to external contractors for most of 2020. During this time we continued to work on ensuring our materials were ready, attracting and training peer educators and developing the professional learning materials. We began offering programs in Term 4 2020 and will continue to do so until the end of Term 2 2022. We will run a conference in May 2022 for school staff, at which we will present our evaluation findings and offer further professional development opportunities.
We have offered programs to schools across the Peel region from Mandurah to Dwellingup and from Serpentine to Waroona. School response has been very favourable and many schools that have taken the programs are keen to continue.
Through pre and post program questionnaires, students who participated in Kids Against Violence in 2020 reported learning something new (86%), increased capacity to recognise violence (41% to 65%), and a stronger belief in the right of everyone to feel safe (56% to 90%). Teachers reported that they could see improvement in students’ capacity to recognise violence and identify safe and unsafe situations.
The 150 students and school staff who attended R4Respect in 2020 reported a high level of confidence in peer educators and felt that the workshops were delivered in a youth-friendly way. Students found it helpful to have peer educators lead workshops (87%), thought peer educators were knowledgeable (86%), and developed a better understand of what is OK and what crosses the line into harm (85%). Students found the information interesting and helpful (85%) and reported that their learning will help them treat others with greater respect (84%). Most students reported that felt they could speak up (80%), although fewer felt comfortable and safe to discuss the topics with their peers (65%). Two thirds of students would prefer peer educators to lead respectful relationships education.
The project was delayed because COVID-19 restrictions meant that schools were closed to external contractors for much of 2020. Unfortunately, between our initial contact with schools in early 2020 and our re-engagement in Term 4 2020, there were considerable staffing changes within the Kids Against Violence program and within the schools.
There was also much less access for school staff to undertake professional learning that we had originally anticipated. We had underestimated the impact of COVID-19. Schools’ need to develop and revise online learning platforms and COVID-19 policies and procedures meant that they were very internally focused for much of 2020 and 2021, leaving reduced capacity to support projects like Building Healthy Relationships.