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Let’s Care Hub

Funded by the European Union under Horizon Europe programme – Grant Agreement 101059425

Friendship Group

Barnardos

Ireland

Evidence of results

Purpose related to Let's Care

Level of Education

Primary

Pillars

Safe Schools

Brief description of the Project

Duration

2008-Currently

Scope

National

Funds

Mainly public

Objectives

To help children who are experienceing difficulty making and keeping friends to develop the skills they need to interact appropriately with their peer group

Methodology

Friendship Group is an evidence-based group work programme that helps children who are experiencing difficulty making and keeping friends to develop the skills they need to interact appropriately with their peer group.
Friendship Group is about giving children a place to develop and practice the skills they need to form healthy friendships. This proven programme was designed in the United States and is rooted in a strong understanding of children’s development.
There are two different levels of Friendship Group:

  • The younger or elementary Friendship Group is a 22 week programme for children aged 5 to 8 years of age
  • Older or advanced Friendship Group which is a 14 week programme for children aged 8 to 12 years.

The ability to make and keep friends is a really important life skill for children to learn. Some children need an extra helping hand to learn these skills and this is what Friendship Group is for.

Friendship Group helps children to make and keep friends by teaching them about:

  • Feelings - how to recognise their own feelings and the feelings of others
  • Solving problems - how to negotiate with others and find solutions to problems
  • Working together - how to play fair, cooperate, get along with others and develop their give-and-take skills

Type of Action

MentoringWorkshops

Target Group and Determinants attended

Students (Relational problems)

Professionals involved

FamiliesTeachers

Networking - Actors and Institutions mobilised by the Project

NGOs or third sector organisationsParentsSchools

Enablers

The coaching model and some of the induction strategies represented new ways of working, and for the most part they
were embraced by staff. The impact of the programme was reported to be felt beyond the coaches to their wider team as
coaches discussed the programme with their colleagues at team and regional meetings and in their day-to-day case
management discussions about children and families. Coaches and their managers often reported that the methods and
styles of the coaching model were being used by other staff members and they reported that they spoke to each other
and to the children in a different way.

Barriers

In the first study, they encountered opposition from one school to using the recommended strategies, as they considered
the group work programmes designed by their project staff to be more effective.

Grade of linkage with the Safe Education Model

The organisation is committed to achieving improved emotional well-being for children attending services and the
research shows that positive peer relationships are key to emotional wellbeing in children. Furthermore, feedback from
the coaches, project managers and regional and national managers suggests that there is a need to provide this
programme to the children that attend Barnardos services to improve their bond with the school and relationships with
their peers.

Grade of linkage with the purpose of Let's Care

The programme does not emphasise among its objectives the prevention of early school leaving,, it does not
even mention it, but it works collaterally. By providing emotional security to students at such early ages, it is
possible to prevent future school failure and/or dropout events. Therefore, the preventive character of
Friendship Group stands out.

Grade of evidence about impact and political relevance

The impact of the programme was reported to be felt beyond the coaches to their wider team as coaches discussed the
programme with their colleagues at team and regional meetings and in their day-to-day case management discussions
about children and families. Coaches and their managers often reported that the methods and styles of the coaching
model were being used by other staff members and they reported that they spoke to each other and to the children in a
different way. The evidence on the outcomes in the area of pro-social behaviour is promising: both the qualitative reports
from coaches, parents and the children themselves and the questionnaire data from teachers and coaches show that the
children’s pro-social behaviour improved over the course of the programme. Typical skills that were developed included
an increased capacity to name and talk about their feelings and emotions, greater confidence, sharing with others and
cooperative play.

Grade of evidence about impact - Project deliverables

Reproducibility

The programme, introduced as a pilot project in 2008, has been extended to schools throughout the country. Stands out
for its flexibility, adapting to the resources and needs of each student and school.

Outcomes

Relational problems, friendship, feelings

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