Circles of Support
The Circles Project facilitates school based circles of support for disabled children. A circle usually consist of 6-8 volunteers from the child’s class who agree to meet weekly with the child and an adult facilitator, to work together to increase the child’s social opportunities and choices.
Interim Evaluation Results – February 2006 to July 2007
It was not possible or appropriate to formally evaluate every Circle with PLUS involvement. From a total of 25 Circles 19 contributed to this data, involving 10 focus children and 83 volunteers.
The following data are the result of formal evaluations completed by Circle members, school staff (normally class teacher and playground supervisor) and parents or carers of focus children at the end of each block of 6 to 8 sessions. Evaluation forms were reviewed and improved during the first year of operation, so not all questions were asked of all participants.
- No Focus Child wished to withdraw from their Circle
(True for all children, all Circles)
- 100% of Focus Children rated their enjoyment of the Circle at 8 or above
(on a scale of 0 to 10) – (True for all children, all Circles)
- Of the 10 children who responded to the question, 90% (9) felt they had made new friends or had become better friends since having a Circle
- Due to changes in evaluation forms the following questions were only asked of 4 focus children.
- 100% (4) of all Focus Children questioned felt better about themselves as a result of being part of a Circle
- 50% (2) of Focus Children reported that they now play more with others out with school and 25% (1) was unsure if this was the case.
All Circle Members
- 97% of all members rated their enjoyment of being part of a Circle at between 8 and 10
(on a scale of 0-10) – (True for all children, all Circles)
- 92% (43) of all Circle members who were asked felt better about themselves since being part of a Circle
Parents of Focus Children
The main benefits to focus children reported by their parents were:
- Increased confidence
- Increased independence
- Opportunity to socialise with peers
- Made new friends
- Increased awareness of issues facing focus child
Parents were given the opportunity to detail any problems that had arisen as a result of the Circle. No issues were reported although a desire for greater involvement out with school was expressed.
The main differences school staff noticed in the focus children’s behaviour were:
- Increased confidence
- Increased tolerance towards others
- Appeared happier
- Making positive relationships with peers
School staff were also given the opportunity to comment on any concerns they had regarding the impact of the Circle on the focus child. Final evaluations before PLUS withdrawal did not contain negative responses.