The Participatory Action Research (PAR) toolkit has been launched and can be freely downloaded from the SPHR website. The toolkit includes all the resources and guidance needed for schools to implement PAR to improve school culture and support mental health.
Research suggests there is a clear link between a positive school culture and good mental health and wellbeing. Schools that support mental health are likely to deliver health promotion and education and recognise the importance of the wider environment in supporting students’ health.
Participatory Action Research is an approach in which people collaboratively research their own experience or environment. In this context, it involves a small group of students and school staff who become researchers in their school. The group meet regularly to reflect on their school’s culture and identify changes they would like to make to positively impact student mental health. These researchers then make one of those changes, collect information about it and reflect on whether it has had the desired effect.
The toolkit is based on SPHR research that assisted with the delivery of PAR in three different secondary schools. Researchers regularly visited the schools and had interviews with school staff, parents and students to see what they thought of PAR being used in their schools. Conclusions from the research are that PAR can be an effective way to improve school culture and mental health. The toolkit has been developed to help support staff and students use PAR in their schools.
What’s in the toolkit?
- PAR toolkit with recorded slides – watch this toolkit presentation from researcher Naomi Leonard which introduces the toolkit, gives information about getting started, tips and examples to help you successfully implement PAR in your school (presentation length 15 min 25 sec)
- PAR toolkit – toolkit slides as above without the voiceover. This is your one-stop information shop with all the guidance and details you need to implement PAR in your school
- PAR cycle – graphic highlights the steps of the PAR cycle
- PAR resource 1 – this resource gives guidance on delivering the first introductory session in schools
- PAR resource 2 – use this template for PAR meetings to keep notes of the discussion as you work through the PAR cycle and what actions are needed
- PAR resource 2 template – Note keeping – printable word document version of the resource above
- PAR resource 3 – Final Session Guidance – guidance for delivering the final PAR session in schools
Naomi Leonard, SPHR researcher who led on the project from the University of Bristol says:
“We are really excited that our PAR toolkit is ready to be widely circulated to help improve culture and mental health within secondary schools. We have worked hard to ensure the toolkit is accessible and helpful for staff, students and parents alike. The designer who collaborated with us on the PAR project, Nick from Vincent Designs, did an excellent job of creating visually relatable content. We look forward to hearing about how PAR has positively impacted students and staff and we hope our toolkit can be enjoyed and used widely.”
If you have any questions or would like to find out more, contact Naomi Leonard at email@example.com