The Partners for Study Support (PfSS) scheme was set up to recognise and encourage the valuable contribution made by programmes of voluntary learning outside the mainstream classroom.

The scheme ran from April 2000 to March 2002, with community organisations bidding for funding to develop partnerships with schools. Fundamental to the scheme was the intention that all members of the partnerships would have a stake in planning, operating and evaluating their project.

This research document reports on an evaluation of the scheme which was conducted by the University of Sunderland. It opens with an executive summary including a useful bullet-point list of the key findings, as well as recommendations for good practice.

The report goes on to look in depth at the nature of the scheme and the 134 projects which it supported. Tables of data are analysed to build up a picture of the characteristics of the projects, the response of students using them, and the impact which projects were observed to have. The document also considers the important issue of self-evaluation, describing the mechanisms in place and investigating their effectiveness.

The main body of the report ends with a series of recommendations. This is followed by ten illustrative case studies.


  • Executive Summary
  • The nature of the scheme and its evaluation
  • Project characteristics
  • The development and operation of the partnerships
  • Student surveys
  • Internal evaluations
  • The impact of the partnerships
  • Conclusions and recommendations for good practice
  • Appendices