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Title: Evaluation report of project REACH coordinated by ACCESS
Authors: Gatt, Suzanne
Keywords: Teachers -- Malta
Teachers -- Training of -- Malta
Teachers -- Attitudes
Education -- Malta -- Evaluation
Teachers -- Job satisfaction -- Malta
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: ACCESS Publication
Citation: Gatt , S. (2007). Evaluation report of project REACH coordinated by ACCESS. Birgu: ACCESS Publication.
Abstract: This report is an evaluation of the outcomes of project REACH – ESF 57 funded under priority 2 – Developing people. The project is coordinated by AÇÇESS in collaboration with the Cottonera College, Employment and Training Corporation (ETC), SEDQA and APPOÌÌ. REACH targets young people who are approaching school-leaving age, particularly those young people with a history of absenteeism at school. The terms of reference for the evaluation exercise, as specified by AÇÇESS include: Interviewing those directly involved in the delivery and implementation of the project such as Learning Mentors, Family Worker and Heads of School; evaluating the outcomes of the project and its impact on participants with particular reference to the aims and objectives of the project identified in the project proposal; interviewing participants which include students, parents and teachers in the two schools concerned; drawing up a comprehensive evaluation report which is to be handed in by not later than the 31st July 2007; making recommendations on how the project can be taken forward or improved upon; and keeping updated records of work carried out such as interviews or report writing. Several risk factors have been identified with respect to school drop outs. Four main risk factors, as identified by Wells et. al. (1989) are identified to be: school-related; student-related; community-related; and family-related. There is a positive aspect in that school factors seem to be a greater determinant of drop out rates than other socioeconomic factors. School factors can be changed and manipulated; it is possible to have intervention. It is much more difficult, however, to try and bring about change in socioeconomic factors such as family and cultural background. This gives educators a degree of hope in working towards finding solutions to keeping students within the education system. The project specifically aims to attract youth at risk in different ways. Actions included in the programme include providing: an alternative learning environment and exploring different learning methodologies; mentoring to students of school leaving age with a history of truancy and absenteeism; life skills training that can assist young people in identifying potential career paths and information on further education and on schemes; experiences that expose them to different working environments in order to bridge the gaps between learning that takes place in schools and the world of work; training to equip them with skills to prevent young people from dropping out of school; and holding regular monthly meetings between the learning mentors and supervisors. The project involved a number of different professional people with different roles and responsibilities. The different roles include mainly the: management committee: with representatives from the different key players; family worker to provide a link between the families and the school; learning mentors responsible for providing the support, labour market skills and alternative form of education to the youth; and teacher trainers who provided training to the teachers within the two schools involved in the project. The methodology followed, due to the sensitive nature of the programme, is mainly qualitative in approach. The methodology followed involved: analysis of existing documentation to identify the context from which the programme emerged, as well as to identify the stated aims and objectives of the project; and a number of in-depth semi-structured qualitative interviews with the main actors involved in the programme. Interviews were carried out with: project coordinator at AÇÇESS; learning mentors; family worker; heads of school where the programme is being run; teachers who followed the training programme; parents of students participating in the programme; as well as boys and girls who participated in the programme. In addition, a quantitative approach involving a questionnaire with the teachers who followed the training course was also used. The evaluation highlighted a number of aspects of the project. There was an agreement on the aims of the project by all the key players involved. Both schools stated that they needed a programme such as REACH aimed at school drop-outs. The Project REACH did actually manage to attract students back to school despite difficult factors and situations. It was well structured between the different organisations involved. This structure promoted collaboration overall, even if this was better established in one school. The undefined role of the ‘learning mentor’, however, gave rise to uncertainty and misunderstanding among teaching staff. This was a big problem in one particular school. It was also noted that the programme could have had a better structured learning programme. Difficulties were also encountered to attract back and help students within the programme and girls were particularly difficult. This resulted in the project being implemented with different degree of success in the two schools. A number of students went back to school and took part in the programme as well as sat for their school leaving exams. Both schools felt that the second part of the project with fourth formers worked better in both schools. Most of the teachers were satisfied with the training course and found the topics relevant. They enjoyed talking and sharing experiences with teachers from another school. However, they would have liked more practical examples and case studies. Premises used for training were also found to be up to standard.
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