This report begins to piece together the Theory of Change for Thrive, a story of how Thrive impacts on the world through its varying outcomes and the relationship between them.
These relationships are important, as often one outcome will lead to another. Similarly, an outcome for one set of stakeholders will have ramifications for others. Despite its inherent simplicity in terms of approach, the way that Thrive is implemented and the contextual factors that shape this implementation are often complex and non‐linear, and the storyboard of outcomes reflects this.
Despite the need for in‐depth exploratory work to tease out and piece together the outcomes, its was important not to lose sight of the fact that, ultimately, the aim was to assemble an impact map of material outcomes for the computation of an Social Return on Investment ratio; material outcomes being those which are both relevant and significant. Often such outcomes weren’t immediately identified but emerged from in‐depth discussions around the way that Thrive can play out in varying situations and the myriad of factors that influence its trajectory along the way.
The fact that one outcome will often lead to another means that the material outcome may in some cases be a secondary outcome, or happen indirectly as a result of something else. Timeframes are therefore important and as such the interviewees were also asked to consider the extent to which outcomes happen over the short, medium and long term, as well as the factors that can make one outcome lead to another across these timeframes.
An obvious question then is, how were short, medium and long term defined? Discussions around this were undertaken with all interviewees, and the answer (as one might expect) was that it is not straight forward, it is context dependent and is influenced by the age and developmental stage of the child receiving Thrive.
Broadly speaking it was felt that initial changes could be expected to be noticed within the first 3 months of implementing a Thrive action plan; although in some cases this initial phase could extend up to 6 or 9 months. When considering medium term impacts it seemed logical to consider a time period ranging from around 6‐9 months up to 3 or 4 years, depending on specific contexts or circumstances. So in the majority of cases discussion around longer term outcomes encompassed those which might occur beyond 3 or 4 years but potentially up to 10 or even 20 years following the implementation of Thrive.
The precise definitions weren’t as important as the process of thinking about how outcomes might play out over various timeframes. Thinking this way helped interviewees to not only identify the outcomes, but also to consider how they might lead to further outcomes and what the longer-term ramifications might be. Thus it became very much a part of piecing the story together, with the temporal elements forming the structure of the storyboard.
Nevertheless, the loose definition of time frames poses a question of how best to present the findings so as to illustrate the temporal nature of the outcomes, and of course the relationship between them. To achieve this, outcomes are divided loosely between those that occur over the short‐medium term, and those that occur over the medium‐longer term.
Also following the pattern and substance of what was derived in the interviews, and to avoid any confusion or ambiguities, the outcomes are structured around stakeholder type, although in a number of cases an outcome for one stakeholder may have important ramifications for another. The case of how changes in a child’s behaviour might impact on their parents or siblings being an obvious example.
In a series of short impact reports, the outcomes are described for the following sets of stakeholders.
- Teachers and support staff
- Children and young people
- Parents, families and foster carers
- Professionals working in children’s services
Short‐medium term outcomes - Professionals working in children’s services
In many ways the impacts on support workers (including youth workers, family support workers, social workers etc) are the same for the those of teachers and carers and centre around an increase in self-awareness and a greater depth of understanding about the underlying causes of behaviour together with the provision of concrete strategies for dealing with challenging cases.
But beyond the trajectory of similar outcomes discussed earlier in this section it is important to recognise the way that Thrive can give people from different professions a common understanding and a common language for dealing with particular children in different contexts. Together with the holistic strategies that Thrive provides, this common language and understanding helps to forge a greater sense of cohesion and cooperation across various sectors and agencies. With all support workers ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ they are better able to meet a child’s needs in a holistic and harmonious way. Again, it is the depth of understanding and underlying philosophy running through all Thrive activities and actions that helps to achieve this.
In a sense Thrive takes on an important role, not only in coordinating action across various stakeholders and sectors but also in building community and cohesion across them. An outcome of this is that greater and more substantive links are made between people and organisations, including links between schools and the sharing of information and good practice. In turn, more effective and appropriate decisions can be taken across the various agencies.
An illustration of that is the perceived reduction in the mis‐diagnosis of autism as a result of Thrive. There is anecdotal evidence emerging that professionals who are Thrive trained are beginning to question some diagnoses of children on the autistic spectrum, believing the problem to be caused by an interruption (often a Being interruption) rather than a neuro‐developmental difficulty.
This stakeholder had also recognised an increase in the number of cases whereby children are being diagnosed on the autistic spectrum due to signs of problems with social skills or language, reporting that in some cases as many as 1 or 2 children per class are being diagnosed with Aspergers.
While further scientific research will be needed to clarify this, the potential implications of a reduction in the number of autism mis‐diagnosis due to the identification and treatment of Being interruptions through Thrive are considered further in the following section.
Over to you
Reduced anxiety and behavioural incidents. Calmer classrooms filled with engaged leaners. Improved relationships with parents and carers. These are just some of the outcomes reported by settings embedding Thrive’s whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing. Are you ready to join them? Click here to get started.
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