SW!TCH Lives Feasibility Study
Developed by LifeLine, the SW!TCH Lives programme is a secondary school intervention for pupils aged between 11 and 14 who are at risk of being drawn into crime and violence. SW!TCH Lives aims to support young people to improve resilience to adversity, increase self-esteem, remain in school and develop positive aspirations. The programme adopts a tiered approach comprised of a universal element (workshops for 10-15 pupils) and a targeted element (one-to-one mentoring). The SW!TCH Lives programme is delivered primarily by youth development workers (YDWs) who are intended to be a trusted, consistent source of guidance and a positive role model for young people.
About the study
Funded by the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF), NatCen conducted a feasibility study of SW!TCH Lives, which aimed to assess early implementation and delivery of the programme from the perspectives of LifeLine senior stakeholders, YDWs, teachers, and pupils. The study also aimed to identify any refinements required to improve the intervention and inform the research design for a potential, larger pilot evaluation.
- The aims of SW!TCH Lives were broadly understood by LifeLine staff, teachers and young people. However, some young people were not clear about the specific goals of the mentoring programme, and some were not sure whether participation was voluntary.
- LifeLine staff shared positive views about their training and experience of SW!TCH Lives. Feedback from LifeLine staff, YDWs and young people suggested that the workshops were interactive and engaging and increased participants' knowledge about serious youth violence. Young people described the mentoring sessions as valuable and highly individualised, with some noting improvements in confidence, aspirations, emotional well-being and relationships.
- Delivery of SW!TCH lacked consistency and deviated from the intended model. Deviations included some schools delivering workshops to whole year groups (as part of personal, social, health and economic [PSHE] education) rather than to smaller groups. In addition, some pupils who were receiving mentoring did not recall attending a workshop, while some pupils attended more than one workshop. The length of mentoring sessions was also not always consistent.
- Improved consistency of implementation is required. This includes selection of schools, delivery of workshops, selection of young people to receive mentoring, the core activities involved in mentoring sessions and assessments of progress. Clearer information could be provided about the workshops, goals of mentoring, and voluntary participation.
- To progress to a pilot evaluation, a larger sample of school delivery sites will be required, observations of training sessions and workshops could sit alongside other qualitative data collection, and pre- and post-intervention data should be collected to measure progress towards intended outcomes for young people.
The study used in-depth interviews with two senior stakeholders and two YDWs at LifeLine and conducted case studies of two schools. The case studies involved interviews and focus groups. Overall, nine pupils who had received mentoring took part in interviews. A total of 18 pupils who attended a workshop took part in one of four focus groups. One interview was conducted with a teacher.