Tuesday, 12 April 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
913. Mr. English asked the Minister for Education and Science if a full evaluation of the Walk Tall and On my Own Two Feet programmes has been carried out; the main findings of this evaluation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10612/05]
Minister for Education and Science (Ms Hanafin): Walk Tall and On My Own Two Feet are resource programmes for implementation, by primary and post-primary schools respectively, in the context of social and personal health education, SPHE. They are designed to assist schools in educating pupils in the area of substance use and in preventing substance misuse.
In 2003, at the request of my Department, an evaluation of Walk Tall was carried out by Dr. Mark Morgan, St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. Following the launch of Walk Tall in the mid-1990s, an earlier “formative” evaluation of the pilot phase had also been carried out, in 1981, by Dr. Morgan.
The recent, 2003, evaluation was concerned with an outcome evaluation based mainly on the perceptions of the teachers who were involved in the programme. It was concerned with how the programme fulfilled the main aims that it was intended to achieve, frequency of implementing the programme, satisfaction with the methodology of Walk Tall and the associated lesson plans.
The main findings are as follows. An analysis of the results of the questionnaire indicated that teachers held a very positive view of the programme in terms of its potential outcomes for children, including safety, drug prevention, self-esteem, personal responsibility and decision-making. About 90% of the teachers had taught the Walk Tall programme at least on a monthly basis and the perception of these teachers was that the children enjoyed those lessons. In relation to lesson plans, teachers expressed a high level of satisfaction especially with respect to appropriateness of lessons for class, opportunity for activities and having the correct amount of material.
There was almost unanimous agreement that there was “a great need” -“a very great need” for a programme like Walk Tall. Findings confirmed that that the Walk Tall programme has a widely accepted rationale and is based on principles that are in line with modern thinking on prevention. The relevant in-service programme was well received by teachers. The questionnaires to the various parties involved — teachers, trainers and children — indicated that it was seen as an important contribution to the curriculum. About 90% of the teachers had taught the Walk Tall programme at least on a monthly basis and the perception of the vast majority was that the children enjoyed the lessons. In the teachers’ views, the Walk Tall programme links in extremely well with SPHE in the curriculum. This is of importance, particularly in relation to the contextualisation of Walk Tall in the curriculum, as well as addressing the issue of “time available within school day”, which emerged as a concern for teachers.
The evaluation found that there was inadequate progress in schools in relation to policy development on substance misuse prevention. It should be noted that considerable attention had been devoted to this matter in the meantime and that a new survey of schools is in preparation in order to determine the current situation regarding such policies in schools.
A full on evaluation of On My Own Two Feet has not been carried out. However, a full evaluation of SPHE implementation at post-primary level is about to be carried out and this will include references to how useful post-primary schools find On My Own Two Feet as a resource. In the meantime, informal reports through the SPHE support service indicate that post-primary schools regard On My Own Two Feet as a valuable source.
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