Any programme that claims to be an intervention for the better in the lives of young people needs to be proven. Hence the need of an evaluation process that is objective and transparent; a process that can map the movement of young people engaged in the Swindon Young People's Empowerment Programme towards its stated outcomes:
- Young people feeling better about themselves and appreciating their self-worth.
- Young people showing improved behaviour at school and at home.
- Young people willing to engage in learning and community service.
SYEP has developed an evaluation process that is based upon a triangulation of three separate informants' data :
- progress assessment of the young people involved in the programme,
- those facilitating SYEP,
- other significant adults involved in the life of youngsters such as parents, school staff, youth workers.
A unique evaluation approach
One of the main concerns when developing the SYEP evaluation procedure was to make it part of the empowering process itself. In other words the course developers wanted to avoid a dry, sterile type of evaluation that required 'tick box' answers but did little to inspire and encourage youngsters to make personal progress. SYEP concluded that young people have to be involved in their own evaluation and introduced to the habit of reflection and analysis based upon, in this course, their awareness of movement towards their higher, 'light' nature and the development of their 'gems-like' qualities. The inclusion of significant adults in this process of reflection and analysis is to make mature modifications, if necessary, and to insure a more reliable and reasoned assessment.
Advantages of the SYEP approach
A significant advantage of SYEP evaluation is that it can quite quickly identify trends exhibited by participants that are progressive or retrogressive. If a dispirited youngster does not respond to the programme, and fortunately this has rarely happened, then another intervention can be sought to help that individual. In the vast majority of cases, however, SYEP evaluation shows that dispirited symptoms have been identified and a positive trend to overcome them has been established. Therefore, SYEP has developed an evaluative tool that can be used by any institution or agency working with young people that identifies behavioural trends at an early stage of applying this intervention.