Research and Evaluation

The aims of the local and national evaluation of HeadStart were to identify whether the programme is making an impact on young people’s resilience and mental wellbeing and to understand which elements of support are associated with the most positive outcomes for children.

HeadStart was a six-year, £11.25 million programme, set up and funded by The National Lottery Community Fund which aimed to provide resources to develop approaches that support young people to build their resilience to cope with everyday pressures they may face throughout their lives. Being resilient means you can ‘bounce back’ when you face difficulties.

HeadStart was a ‘test and learn’ research programme, so learning about what was and wasn’t working was very important to the development of programme from the beginning.

Evidence was gathered from lots of different people and in various ways. Some people took part in interviews or focus groups and others may have answered a survey. Where things weren’t working as well as hoped, they could be adapted to make them better based on what people were feeding back and saying.

The Headstart Final Evaluation Report was published in May 2023.

Evidence briefings, learning updates and case studies produced by the HeadStart National Learning Team are available.

Local evaluation

In addition to supporting the national evaluation, the local evaluation aims to answer questions under the five objectives:

  1. Understand the level and extent of awareness of HeadStart.
  2. Explore and evidence how the programme is being implemented.
  3. Evidence the extent to which HeadStart is reaching and engaging with its target population.
  4. Describe and measure the effect HeadStart has on young people and their outcomes.
  5. Describe whether, and in what ways, HeadStart is facilitating system change in school and community approaches to young people’s mental health.

The local evaluation uses systematic and rational approaches to research and analysis, combining data from relevant sources to produce robust and valid reports.

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HeadStart evaluation reports