SECONDARY and Primary schools across Harlow are being urged to sign up to the Risk-Avert programme, which helps children and young people understand and manage risk, improve decision-making and leads to improvements in emotional health and resilience.
Risk-Avert, which has been developed jointly by Essex County Council Public Health and The Training Effect (TTE), has been running in Essex for the past six years and is free for schools to run.
Since the project’s inception 75 per cent of the county’s Secondary schools have participated and since the official launch of the Primary programme in the last academic year, 10 per cent of all Primary schools have taken part.
Councillor Ray Gooding, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Education, said: “At Essex County Council we work hard to enable all children to fulfil their potential and we want to improve the health of all residents of Essex.
“Results in the schools which have followed the Risk-Avert programme have been very encouraging and I hope more schools in Essex will take up the initiative.
“Next year, new statutory requirements for Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education will come into force. This initiative, will fulfill those PSHE curriculum requirements and improve the mental health and resilience of young people. I feel it’s a win-win situation.”
Risk-Avert is an evidence-based, secondary school programme which identifies young people vulnerable to multiple risk-taking behaviours and provides universal and targeted interventions through a life skills-based programme.
Pupils at risk of engaging in early-onset risk-taking are identified through a screening tool administered to all pupils in year 8. The survey also identifies those young people experiencing early and emerging emotional health difficulties and offers a distinct, targeted programme for these pupils.
The award-winning Risk-Avert also offers a primary school programme which aims to support the transition from primary to secondary education. It is focused on the teaching of positive social norms and protective behaviours. Participating schools are asked to complete an anonymous survey with year 6 pupils and deliver four sessions over the summer term.
Mark Bowles, Director, TTE, said: “Young people are exposed to many risks such as drugs, alcohol, knife crime and bullying. The Risk-Avert programme provides teachers and students an opportunity to develop strong, positive relationships in a supportive environment. It also allows students to learn about risk-taking, improve decision-making and develop the skills that will help them safely navigate adolescence.”
The targeted element of Risk-Avert is delivered over six sessions. In addition, schools are also provided with additional resources, including a full PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Education) curriculum mapped to the new statutory requirements for schools from September 2020 and resources to support parents.
Mark Bowles continued: “With the new statutory requirements for PSHE coming into force next year, Risk-Avert is now providing a full PSHE curriculum, to enable schools to fulfill the requirements in one simple, free programme.
“Since its inception around 30,000 pupils have engaged with Risk-Avert and independent evaluation conducted by the University of Bath has shown that over 75 per cent of pupils experience an improvement in mental health and 74 per cent see improvements in their resilience alongside improvements in their ability to make independent decisions and feel better prepared to overcome adverse situations.
The feedback and evidence we receive shows the extent of the impact the programme can have and we really want to encourage all Essex schools to get involved this year to benefit not only from the Risk-Avert programme but also the new PSHE curriculum.”
More information on Risk-Avert is available at: www.risk-avert.org
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