Plain English Summary
Background and study aims:
This project will assess the performance of a mentoring programme provided by Chance UK, currently available in Enfield, Hackney, Islington, Lambeth and Waltham Forest. Chance UK was a programme that looked at the effects of mentoring on children that had emotional and behavioural problems. This was very successful with 98% of the children taking part showing significant improvments. However, it did not include a control group which makes drawing firm conclusions about the impact of the programme difficult. Here, we want to build on the early results from the Chance UKs mentoring programme using experimental methods to estimate how successful it is as improving childrens emotional and behavioural problems. This is an exploratory study and further research may be needed to get some definite answers.
Who can participate?
The sample will be drawn from approximately 65 primary schools across London. Participants will be children aged 5-11 years with behavioural difficulties who are referred by school staff to Chance UKs mentoring programme.
What does the study involve?
Children referred to Chance UKs service and deemed eligible are randomly allocated into one of two groups. Those in group 1 are given one year of weekly one-to-one mentoring by trained volunteers. The sessions are developed to meet the individual needs of every child taking part. Those children in group 2 are directed towards other services as provided in their London borough. Changes in each childs behaviour is measured though questionnaires and follow-up sessions at 9 months and 16 months after the referral date.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
The potential benefit to participating families is the reduction of the childs emotional and behavioural problems. There are no known risks.
Where is the study run from?
The Social Research Unit at Dartington, UK.
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
The trial start date was taken as the date when referrals were first collected from Chance UK in order to screen for eligibility for the study, 29th July 2014. The final report is due to be produced by the end of March 2017.
Who is funding the study?
The Big Lottery Fund (UK) is providing the funding as part of their Realising Ambition project.
Who is the main contact?
Dr. Nick Axford (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dr Nick Axford
The Social Research Unit
Lower Hood Barn
+44 (0) 1803 762400
The effectiveness of Chance UKs early intervention mentoring programme in improving behavioural and emotional outcomes in primary school children with behavioural difficulties: an exploratory randomised controlled trial
ECHO (Evidence for CHildrens Outcomes)
1. It is hypothesised that, relative to the control group, children in the intervention group (i.e. receiving Chance UKs mentoring programme) will show improved behaviour and emotional wellbeing from the main caregivers perspective.
2. It is further hypothesised that, relative to the control group, children in the intervention group will show improved self-esteem and self efficacy.
3. In addition, it is hypothesised that there will be a positive relationship between fidelity of delivery and outcomes.
Warren House Group Research Ethics committee, 02/07/2014. ref. WHG2014-001
A two-arm, exploratory, randomised controlled, parallel group, superiority trial
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Randomised controlled trial
Patient information sheet
Consent forms for schools and parents will be made available on the trial website: http://dartington.org.uk/ECHO
Emotional and behavioural problems
Chance UKs mentoring programme is for children aged 5 to 11 years old reported as displaying emotional and behavioural difficulties. It aims to prevent future antisocial and criminal behaviour by reducing the associated risk factors (such as early problem behaviour, lack of a positive role model, and limited opportunities) and by promoting childrens strengths (such as decision-making, coping skills, social skills and sporting, creative or academic abilities). Chance UK use a solution-focused approach to improve young childrens behaviour throughout one year of one-to-one mentoring by trained, supervised volunteers. The mentors meet with the children weekly, for around 2 to 4 hours. They develop an individual programme of activities in line with their childs interests and needs this could include visits to the park, sports centre, library or exhibitions. All tasks are intended to be interactive and have a purpose; the aim of sessions is to help children to work towards specified personal goals, to recognise and build strengths, and to consider and try out more effective responses to difficulties, while broadening their horizons. All of this is with the aim of helping the children to progress towards the preferred future that they have identified. Chance UK only serve children with an identified level of need, volunteer mentors are highly trained to deliver a tailored programme of structured activities, a thorough matching process is designed to create successful matches, the sessions take place weekly for one year, and parents are offered support as part of the programme. The control group will be signposted to other services available in the London borough in which the child attends school.
Primary outcome measures
The study will primarily measure changes in childrens behaviour and emotional functioning from the main parent/carers perspective. These measures will be administered/collected at baseline, mid-way through the mentoring year or equivalent, and post-test at the end of the mentoring year or equivalent.
1. Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire parent report (SDQ; Goodman, 1997)
2. Eyberg Child Behaviour Inventory (ECBI; Eyberg, 1978)
Secondary outcome measures
Secondary assessments will measure the same outcomes but from the perspective of school staff. In addition, measures for children aged 8-11 years will capture changes in self-esteem and self-efficacy, which are the key mediators through which the programme core components are theorised to impact on behaviour and emotional wellbeing. Parental/carer depression will be assessed and analysed as a covariate to determine whether this influences the way that parents/carers report on their childs behavioural difficulties on the primary outcome measure, which could potential confound the results. These measures will be administered/collected at baseline, mid-way through the mentoring year or equivalent, and post-test at the end of the mentoring year or equivalent. Supplementary data will also be collected on family demographics (at baseline only). A service use questionnaire will establish other services that the child or family receives during the course of the study (administered at mid-point and post-test only).
1. Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire teacher report (SDQ; Goodman, 1997)
2. The Self-Perception Profile for Children (SPPC; Harter, 1982; 2012)
3. Childrens Hope Scale (Snyder et al., 1997)
4. Beck Depression Inventory II - short form (BDI; Beck & Beck, 1972)
5. Family Demographics Questionnaire (FDQ; Little et al., 2012)
6. Family Service Use Questionnaire (Little et al., 2012)
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Participant inclusion criteria
1. The child is aged between 5 and 10 years old at point of referral
2. The child lives or attends school in any of the London boroughs of Enfield, Hackney, Islington, Lambeth or Waltham Forest
3. The child scores 16 or above on the Total Difficulties scale of the teacher-reported SDQ
4. The child scores 14 or above on the Total Difficulties scale of the parent-reported SDQ
5. Both parent and child are willing to take part in the programme and the study
6. There is no diagnosis of autism or any developmental delay that would prevent the child from engaging in the programme and the study, as identified through school records and parent report
7. The child is not severely emotionally distressed as a result of a recent life event, such as a bereavement
8. There is no known history of the family making malicious allegations against professionals, as identified through information submitted on the referral form
9. There is no known risk of violence towards Chance UK staff or the research team by the child or parent, as identified through information submitted on the referral form
Target number of participants
264 children to be randomised (132 intervention, 132 control)
Participant exclusion criteria
For the purposes of the study, siblings are not eligible to participate as this would mean that one or more families would be over-represented in the data. To be precise, one child of a group of siblings may participate but fellow siblings will not be eligible. Chance UK will inform referrers that they have capacity to work with one child per family. However, if siblings are referred, Chance UK will check the eligibility of both/all; if only one is eligible (i.e. on teacher SDQ) that child will proceed, and if both/all are eligible the oldest child will proceed. If the parent SDQ threshold is not reached for the older child, it will be conducted for the younger child(ren).
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
The Social Research Unit
The Big Lottery Fund (UK)
Big Lottery Fund
1 Plough Place
Big Lottery Fund (UK) (as part of the Realising Ambition programme, managed by Catch22)
Funding Body Type
private sector organisation
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Not provided at time of registration
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
Not provided at time of registration
Results - basic reporting