Randomised controlled trial of the Teens and Toddlers programme

This report from the Department for Education presents findings of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the impact of the Teens and Toddlers (T&T) programme, which aims to reduce teenage pregnancy by raising the aspirations and educational attainment of 13- to 17-year-old girls at most risk of leaving education early, social exclusion, and becoming pregnant.

The T&T programme, which consisted of weekly three-hour sessions over 18 to 20 weeks, combined group-based learning with work experience in a nursery. The RCT measured the impact of the programme on a specific set of outcomes while it was taking place, immediately afterwards, and one year later. Immediately after the intervention, there was no evidence of a positive impact on the three primary outcomes:

  • use of contraception;
  • expectation of teenage parenthood; and
  • general social and emotional development.

However, there was evidence of improved self-esteem and sexual-health knowledge, which were secondary outcomes. One year later, the only impact was that the teenagers were less likely to have low self-esteem.

Source: Randomised controlled trial of the ‘teens and toddlers’ programme (2012), Department for Education

Does arts engagement work to increase student achievement?

This report from the US National Endowment for the Arts looks at correlations between arts activity among at-risk youth and subsequent levels of academic performance and civic engagement. Data was pulled from four large-scale, longitudinal studies that tracked a nationally representative sample of children and/or teenagers over time.

The following key findings emerged:

  • Socially and economically disadvantaged children and teenagers who have high levels of arts engagement or arts learning show more positive outcomes in a variety of areas than their low-arts-engaged peers;
  • At-risk teenagers or young adults with a history of intensive arts experiences show achievement levels closer to, and in some cases exceeding, the levels shown by the general population studied; and
  • Most of the positive relationships between arts involvement and academic outcomes apply only to at-risk populations (low socio-economic status). But positive relationships between arts and civic engagement are noted in higher socio-economic status groups as well.

Source: The arts and achievement in at-risk youth: Findings from four longitudinal studies (2012), National Endowment for the Arts