Project information

Link to sections:

Study details

Pilot RCT with embedded process evaluation
Allocated participants will receive Breakthrough mentoring for a school year
11-16 year olds currently attending secondary school deemed at risk of exclusion by school staff
21 young people (n=11 intervention, n=10 control)
Exclusion criteria:
Currently receiving or received Breakthrough mentoring in past
Web-based randomisation on 1:1 stratifying by sex
Project dates:
Start June 2013, end July 2015


Outcome measures:

Primary outcome:

  • Goodman Strength and Difficulties questionnaire (SDQ)

Secondary outcomes:

  • Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS)
  • Social Connectedness Scale- Revised (SCS-R)
  • Measures of engagement in risk behaviours
  • School attendance, remaining at school or in education
All outcome measures are assessed at baseline (prior to start of intervention), and at follow-up i.e.6, 12 and 18 months.

Further evaluation:

Detailed process and cost-effectiveness evaluations are being conducted.
The process evaluation involves:
  • Interviews with all study participants at 6 and 12 months
  • Interviews with mentors at the end of the intervention
  • Focus group with Breakthrough mentors and observation of mentor training
  • Interviews with family members, school staff and key stakeholder
The cost-effectiveness analysis will involve a cost-consequences analysis of the intervention.

Research questions

  • Is it possible to conduct a pilot trial and individually randomise students (11-16 year olds) identified by secondary schools as presenting with problematic behaviours?
  • Can we collect quantitative and qualitative data from participants at all three follow-up time (6, 12 & 18 months) points?
  • How acceptable is the invention and the trial procedures to schools and participants?

Project background

Mentoring schemes are increasingly being used as a way of working with vulnerable and marginalised groups to reduce social isolation and improve health and wellbeing.
Youth mentoring has been suggested as one way to provide a young person with a trusting and guiding relationship with an adult with the aim of increasing emotional resilience, social connectivity, social capital, and life skills to promote health and well-being and prevent negative outcomes. It has been associated with a variety of positive outcomes including higher academic achievement and performance ( 1, 2), lower problem or risk-taking behaviours ( 3), enhanced psychological well-being and general health  ( 4), and improved perceived family and peer relationships ( 5). 
However, systematic reviews undertaken of mentoring schemes published by the Cochrane Library and the Campbell collaboration have highlighted various methodological limitations of the existing evidence base and drawn attention to a lack of evidence on the effectiveness of mentoring in improving health outcomes. 
This weak evidence base and the fact that in the UK, to our knowledge, no RCT has been undertaken testing the effectiveness of mentoring programmes in secondary school aged children, suggests that there is a need to evaluate the effectiveness of youth mentoring programmes for young people in enabling them to take full advantage of the educational and training opportunities open to them. In addition, the recent launch of several schemes (e.g. Change UK, Mayors Mentoring Programme launched in London, CSV Mentoring Scheme, Mentor UK) highlights that mentoring is of interest to policy makers and practitioners.

Key references



Edit this page