Programme evaluation

The evaluation of the Stepping Stones pilot proves that the programme can help vulnerable young people as they transition to and settle into secondary school. It includes evidence of benefits in terms of attainment, behaviour and attendance for Year 7 students.

Download the report, watch our summary video, or read on for key findings.

Stepping Stones - Evaluation


Two of the three pilot schools saw a strong improvement in the proportion of students making satisfactory progress in Maths and English.

For these two schools:

  • in Maths, an average of 74% of Stepping Stones students made satisfactory progress, compared to 54% of the previous year
  • in English, an average of 83% of Stepping Stones students made satisfactory progress, compared to 67% of the previous year


  • shy, quiet students improved their confidence in the classroom and social settings
  • students with behavioural issues improved their self-awareness, maturity and control over their emotions
  • two out of the three pilot schools saw commitment scores improve for Stepping Stones students compared to previous years
  • in one school, 74% of Stepping Stones students scored satisfactory or higher in their commitment scores compared to only 46% of the previous year


  • at the end of the school year, two out of the three pilot schools saw a strong improvement in attendance rates among Stepping Stones students compared to previous years
  • at one school, the proportion of those achieving 95% attendance or higher increased from 54% for the previous year to 70% for Stepping Stones students
  • Stepping Stones students felt happier about going to school compared to previous Year 7 groups

Impact on peer mentors

Involving older students as peer mentors not only affects Year 7 students positively, but also the mentors themselves. Overall, peer mentors developed:

  • leadership skills and maturity
  • listening skills and empathy
  • communication skills and confidence
  • a sense of commitment to their school and confidence in their future aspirations

Economic assessment

The Stepping Stones pilot programme cost an average of £151,393 per school and £2,282 per student.

Schools looking to replicate the programme should note that these costs are based on delivering the pilot. They are likely to be reduced in future years because the design of various materials and resources has already been completed. Specific elements of the programme could also be run in isolation. Read our tips on how to run the programme in your school.

Overall, the Stepping Stones programme more than pays for itself. Economic modelling from the pilot indicates that the impact on the net budget over 10 years is £515,836 with a return on investment of 212%.

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