Research reviews

Mentoring disaffected young people: an evaluation of
“Mentoring Plus”
Michael Shiner and Tim Newburn, Joseph Rowntree

Well-run mentoring programmes have succeeded in engaging very
disaffected young people and helped them take

up education, training and work opportunities.

But there is no evidence that by the time young people finished
the programmes there had been any impact on crime or drug/alcohol

These are the findings of an extensive evaluation of 10
“Mentoring Plus” programmes run by the charities Crime Concern and
Breaking Barriers.

The programmes lasted between 10 and 12 months and started with
a residential weekend, with volunteer mentors recruited from the
local community and matched with the young people. Regular
education and training sessions were also provided, and frequent
social activities were organised.

The evaluation found that the Mentoring Plus programmes had been
particularly successful in engaging those young people who were at
most risk of social exclusion, including large numbers of black
African and Caribbean young people. Many had left school without

qualifications and showed much higher levels of offending and
illegal drug use than average.

Two thirds of the young people felt the mentors had been
helpful, and nearly all found the training sessions and organised
social events helpful. There was a big increase in the proportion
of young people engaged in education by the end of the programme,
while participation by members of a comparable group who were not
on the programme did not increase.

One of the aims of Mentoring Plus was to reduce offending, but
there was no clear evidence that they had succeeded in this. The
researchers point out that the programme’s structured
activities relate most clearly to education, and that no activity
was specifically designed to reduce offending. They also suggest
that insecure funding and fixed-term employment for project workers
led to high staff turnover which in itself may have reduced the
programme’s impact.

The researchers put forward the view that programme funders and
designers should recognise the inherently difficult nature of
working with very disaffected young people, including the risk of
violence and antisocial behaviour on the programme itself, and that
risk management should be given a higher priority.

A model of the inter-generational effects of parental
Leon Feinstein, Kathryn Duckworth and Ricardo Sabates,
Department for Education and Skills

The transmission of educational success from parents to children
is key to equality of opportunity. Parental education and income
have more impact on children’s educational attainment than
any other factor including teen motherhood, maternal employment or
family structure.

Parental beliefs, values and aspirations as well as parental
mental health and well being are also very important, but
neighbourhoods and schools can have a substantial impact in
mitigating the effects of family-related disadvantage on

These are the conclusions of a review of the existing literature
on the effect of parents’ education on the development of
children. It distinguishes different kinds of influences on
children, including factors such as family size and income,
parental mental health and physical health, the way parents and
children relate to each other, and the context outside the family
such as neighbourhood and school.

Parental warmth and disciplinary skills are also major factors
in children’s success or otherwise at school, and can offset
other influences, says the study.

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