01.07.2010 Early identification and intervention in schools: lessons learned

New publication: The RADIX foundation has extracted key findings from the evaluations of a number of projects concerned with early identification and early intervention (E&E) in schools and presented them in summarised form in a new publication. E&E is an investment in the future not only of young people but also of schools, and improves equality of opportunities for the 10 –20% of children and adolescents in Switzerland who are at risk.

Pictures Early identification and intervention in schools: lessons learned


In 2004, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) and the Swiss Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Problems (SFA; new name Addication info suisse) published the booklet «School and Cannabis» in order to raise schools’ awareness of selective and indicated prevention. The booklet provided teachers and school directors dealing with at-risk pupils with a set of guidelines on how to proceed when young people show signs and symptoms of abnormal psychosocial behaviour. This publication led to a large-scale E&E project in schools in the Canton of Basel-Stadt. This was followed by three further, though differently structured, projects throughout Switzerland. All projects were co-funded by the FOPH and scientifically evaluated by the University of Applied Sciences of Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW). This meant that implementation of E&E was being promoted while also being verified and improved. The findings and insights of the four evaluation reports have now been consolidated and summarised in the new publication «Early Identification and Early Intervention in Schools: Lessons Learned».

Valuable findings for future E&E projects
The booklet comprises introductory comments on E&E in schools, followed by chapters on two main topics: «Project management» and «Development and implementation of E&E».
Each chapter concludes with a discussion of the lessons learned. These lessons comprise the consolidated findings of all the evaluations. For instance, it is of great importance in all E&E projects for the teaching staff to share the same attitude. The lessons learned are as follows:
− First, consensus on the prevention role of the school has to be achieved: does the school, i.e. the director and the teaching staff, believe that E&E is a task of the school?
− This topic needs to be addressed if a shared attitude that can be experienced by everyone in the day-to-day life of the school is to be developed. This can, for instance, be achieved in the course of discussions on the common rules or if the teaching staff handle an actual case.
− The development of a shared attitude is a key component of E&E and should be addressed at the earliest possible stage of a project.
− Familiarity and identification with the attitude is greater when teachers are actively involved in the process.

Educational authorities, school directors, teachers, special units, parents and other parties interested in E&E, their effects and the obstacles facing them will find valuable insights and tips in this booklet which should be incorporated into projects at both the planning and implementation stages. The publication is not a guideline to implementation and does not include any actual tools. Rather, compiled on a basis of systematically and scientifically surveyed practical experience, it is a collection of insights and suggestions offered in a readable and easy-to-understand form.

Fabian, Carlo & Müller, Caroline. (2010). Früherkennung und Frühintervention in Schulen. Lessons learned. [Early identification and intervention in schools. Lessons learned] Berne: RADIX.
Further information, the four evaluation reports and ordering details for this free publication can be found at: www.radix.ch/f-f.

RADIX – centre of excellence for health promotion and prevention

RADIX develops and implements health-promotion and prevention services. It cooperates closely with the federal authorities, cantons, municipalities, schools and also many specialist organisations. Early identification and early intervention are a focal point of its activities. With support from the FOPH, RADIX is implementing two E&E projects in schools in the German and French-speaking parts of Switzerland, scheduled to run until 2012, and the nationwide project «Municipality-oriented Early Intervention», to run until 2012. You can obtain further information from fabian@radix.ch.


Pia Oetiker, Drugs Section, pia.oetiker@bag.admin.ch

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