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Established first in the USA, Valued Youth has operated in the UK since 1996, and is currently implemented in about 50 schools in 8 regions. The programme is intended to help secondary school students who are at risk of disengaging with school or underperforming for a variety of reasons. These students are selected as tutors, given training on how to work with younger children and placed in a local primary school where they support pupils' learning. Valued Youth can be seen as one of many initiatives in secondary schools on re-engagement in learning and contributes to the UK government strategy of extending opportunities and providing flexible learning experiences to meet individual learners' needs and aptitudes.\ud
Evidence from the USA has shown the value of the programme in reducing drop-out, strengthening youngsters' perceptions of self and school, and reducing disciplinary referrals and absenteeism. The evaluation discussed in this paper considers the effect of the programme in a UK context, not only in terms of young people's attendance, attainment and confidence, but also in terms of what sort of youngsters seem to benefit and the effects of financial rewards, if any, on the outcomes.\ud
The paper reports on the first year of a two-year evaluation. Data were obtained from a pre- and post-questionnaire survey among tutors, a workshop with coordinators and visits to selected case study schools in several regions. Almost all tutors enjoyed the programme and would recommend the experience to others. There was a relatively low dropout and the programme was warmly appreciated by participating primary schools. We have evidence that Valued Youth markedly raises confidence, improves communication skills and keeps some at risk youngsters on track in school. Many types of youngsters benefit from the experience; those who lack confidence and have poor communication skills seem to make the most progress. Successful tutors tend to be those who are committed to the programme, willing to learn, are flexible and cooperative, and have some ability to interact with others, particularly children and primary teachers.
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