Explore below answers to some of the frequently asked questions regarding the Bright Spots Programme, the two Bright Spots surveys and New Belongings Plus.
The Bright Spots Programme is a research project that helps local authorities to use children and young people’s voices to inform service development and strategic thinking.
The programme incorporates the two Bright Spots surveys: Your Life, Your Care and Your Life Beyond Care as well as New Belongings Plus (a continuation of the New Belongings Programme 2019-22).
The Bright Spots surveys ask children and young people about what is important to them and what makes their life good. Local authorities receive a bespoke report highlighting key findings which can direct service improvement.
The Bright Spots Programme has been running surveys with care-experienced children and young people since 2015. We work with local authorities from across the UK to help them develop their services based on children and young people’s voices.
Your Life, Your Care is the survey for children in care aged 4-17. It consists of three surveys across three age brackets (4-7yrs – 13 questions for the child, and 5 demographics questions to be answered by an adult; 8-11yrs – 34 questions, and 11-17yrs – 49 questions). The questions in the 4-7 survey are replicated across all surveys to enable comparison between age groups.
Your Life Beyond Care is the survey for care leavers aged 16-25. Some of the questions from Your Life, Your Care are replicated in the care leaver survey to enable comparison between the two groups.
The two Bright Spots surveys alongside New Belongings Plus make up the three individual Bright Spots offers. The surveys can be run individually, concurrently or biennially depending on the needs of the local authority. The New Belongings Plus offer includes the Your Life Beyond Care survey.
New Belongings Plus is a service development tool which helps a local authority to translate Your Life Beyond Care survey findings into action through a process of co-production with their care leavers and partner agencies.
New Belongings Plus sits alongside the two Bright Spots surveys to make up the three individual Bright Spots offers. The surveys can be run individually, concurrently or biennially depending on the needs of the local authority. The New Belongings Plus offer includes the Your Life Beyond Care survey.
The Your Life, Your Care and Your Life Beyond Care surveys have been through a rigorous research and development process. They were developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford, drawing on international research reviews, focus groups with care-experienced children and young people, consultation with a survey expert and a round-table discussion with professionals across the sector.
The Bright Spots team have piloted and tested the surveys with children and young people to ensure questions are age-appropriate and written in a way that young people can understand.
The surveys ask children and young people about their ‘subjective well-being’: how they feel about their lives at both the individual and interpersonal level.
The questions are based on the Bright Spots Well-Being Indicators, a set of measures co-produced with 170 children in care and care leavers about what makes their lives good. You can find more information about the indicators here.
Some of the questions are the same as questions also asked by surveys of young people in the general population (e.g. Office for National Statistics, Children’s Society and Health Behaviour of School-aged Children). This means that local authorities can compare and benchmark their Bright Spots survey findings against children and young people in the general population.
The Your Life, Your Care and Your Life Beyond Care surveys are the only surveys that give local authorities a systematic overview of how their children and young people feel about their lives.
Both surveys help local authorities to improve children and young people’s experience by focusing change where they say it is needed. Ofsted expects local authorities to incorporate the views and experiences of children and young people in service development and strategic thinking. Bright Spots can help local authorities show that they are listening to their children and young people, including those less often heard from.
Findings from the surveys can be used in a range of contexts including being shared with children in care councils and care leaver forums.
To see examples of how local authorities have used their survey findings, please see our Resource Bank.
New Belongings Plus uses learning and tools from the Bright Spots Programme as well as more direct work with young people and key agencies to provide a platform for local authorities to improve their co-production.
The key focus is on finding local solutions to local problems by ensuring care leavers’ voices are at the heart of all planning. This can help your local authority improve co-production through the creation of a reference group of young people whose job is to review and support your work.
The Bright Spots team help to ensure service wide buy-in by working with key managers to establish SMART targets and facilitating the input of partner agencies in relevant conversations.
The Bright Spots team will tailor New Belongings Plus to the needs of your local authority and offer regular support and in-depth feedback including a review of your co-production and participation offering.
The surveys are set up online using SmartSurvey and an online link will be shared alongside PDF copies which can be printed and completed by hand. The Bright Spots team provide advice and support to ensure that all children and young people get the opportunity to respond to the surveys. We also work with each authority to come up with strategies to reach less often heard from groups (e.g. children and young people with additional needs, unaccompanied minors and those in custody).
Your Life, Your Care:
A ‘trusted adult’ model is used to contact each child and young person to give them the chance to answer the survey in a way that works for them. A trusted adult is a professional known to the child or young person who presents the survey to them, tells them what it’s about and gives them the support they need to complete the survey. The trusted adult cannot be a child’s own social worker or foster carer, as there are questions about them in the surveys. Find out more with this video: Trusted Adult FAQs for the Bright Spots Your Life, Your Care survey
Your Life Beyond Care:
Most young people will be able to complete the surveys without help. We recommend that each young person’s Personal Adviser contacts young people who are able to answer the questions in the survey without help, explains what the survey is and encourages them to complete it.
Some of the questions may bring up difficult feelings for young people, so Personal Advisers should also plan in some time to catch up with their young people after completing the survey and ask if there is anything they want to share.
We recommend a ‘trusted adult’ model of survey distribution for young people who need support to answer the questions in the survey (e.g. young people who speak English as a second language or young people who have additional learning needs). This is where a professional known to the young person (but not their own Personal Adviser) presents the survey to them, tells them what it’s about and gives them the support they need to complete the survey. Find more with this video: Personal Advisor and trusted adult FAQs for the Bright Spots Your Life Beyond Care survey
The Bright Spots team will work with your local authority to maximise response rates. We aim for a minimum target response rate of 30% to ensure your findings are representative of your children in care or care leaver population.
We recommend a minimum of 4 weeks’ planning prior to surveys starting to promote the surveys across the local authority. During this planning period, all trusted adults should receive guidance about how to support children and young people to answer the surveys. We also recommend that Team Managers across the service put the Bright Spots surveys as a discussion point on team meeting agendas to encourage service-wide buy-in.
The most effective strategies include ‘a plan for each young person’ – who their trusted adult is, when and where they will meet with their trusted adult or Personal Adviser and a back-up plan in case circumstances change.
A key factor to achieving high response rates is visible support from Senior Management.
Watch this video from Hertfordshire County Council about their project management approach to running the Your Life, Your Care survey.
Watch this video from Isle of Wight Council about the effective strategy they used to achieve 80% response rate in the Your Life Beyond care survey.
The minimum response rate of 30% exists to ensure that the data collected can be analysed effectively. If the minimum target is not met, there is a risk that individual children and young people could be identified by the information they provide, the findings might not be representative and overall comparative analysis may not be possible.
During the survey period, you will receive twice weekly response rate updates to help you track your progress against the 30% target. If you are falling behind, the Bright Spots team will work with you to find new strategies for survey distribution and ensure that as many of your children and young people as possible get a chance to take part.
Coram Voice will always let local authorities know if a child or young person leaves a comment in the survey that indicates a safeguarding concern. However, as the surveys are anonymous, we can only disclose the child or young person’s demographic information (age, sex, ethnicity, placement type, length of time in care), the time and date they completed the survey and what they have written.
Although we read all comments as part of the analysis process, this may be months after the comment has been left. The role of the trusted adult is therefore key in making sure safeguarding concerns are actioned when they arise.
The Bright Spots team of independent and experienced researchers create a bespoke report for each local authority. The report compares the local authority’s findings to the national average (children in care and care leavers in other authorities) as well as to findings from similar surveys in the general population.
The report will highlight ‘Bright Spots’ – areas of good practice where children and young people are flourishing – as well as indicating areas of improvement where further work may be needed.
A member of the Bright Spots team is available to present on key findings from your report to encourage service-wide discussion and exploration of the findings. This feedback session should lead to the creation of an action plan based on the views and feelings of your children and young people. The session can be tailored to fit with the needs of your local authority and can include an audience of your choice. We encourage co-production and involvement of young people in the creation of the action plan.
At this point, the New Belongings Plus offer additionally includes:
- Two deep dive sessions with care leavers and key partner agencies on topics of your choice;
- A session with the working group to review the action plan and agree how young people will be involved going forward;
- A session with the young people’s reference group to review action plan and how they can influence/ impact the process;
- An all-service session confirming the long-term action plan to embed practice;
- A follow-up session to review progress of the action plan.
Coram Voice is the data controller and will provide local authorities with their anonymised raw data upon request.
Coram Voice does not collect personal identifiers such as names, dates of birth, addresses or IP addresses for individual children and young people as part of the survey. All data is cleaned and any identifying information provided as part of children and young people’s own free text responses is removed prior to any reporting or sharing of information.
The Bright Spots privacy statement is available to read here.