Play-based MHPSS Teacher Training in Ukraine

Evaluation of a Play-based MHPSS Teacher Training in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has caused widespread destruction of life and property, disruptions in basic services, and forced millions of children and families to flee their homes in search of safety. Separation from friends and caregivers, breakdown in social support, fear of attacks, and uncertainty about the future can have a devastating impact on the mental health and wellbeing of children. It is now more important than ever that Ukrainian children have access to learning environments that are safe, supportive, and conducive to healing. Towards this end, the LEGO Foundation and the MHPSS Collaborative developed and conducted an online training on play-based mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) for teacher training institutions in Ukraine between September 2022 and April 2023. It focused on practical approaches and play-based strategies and tools (e.g., POWER games) that teachers can use to support the well-being of their students. This training has now been rolled out to teachers across Ukraine, with the vision of developing a cadre of teachers well-equipped to respond to the growing MHPSS needs of children affected by the conflict in Ukraine.

With support from the LEGO Foundation, the MHPSS Collaborative is currently conducting an evaluation of the training programme to understand its effectiveness, impact, as well as the integration of play-based MHPSS in Ukrainian schools. Specifically, the evaluation has the following objectives:

(1) to understand and improve the implementation of the Play-based MHPSS Teacher Training in Ukraine,

(2) to understand how play is integrated into the classroom to promote mental health and wellbeing and a safe learning environment,

(3) to understand the enablers and barriers of applying and integrating play based MHPSS in the classroom,

(4) to assess the impact of the training on teacher trainers, teachers, and students, and

(5) to understand the government’s perception of play-based MHPSS training in schools and potential policy impacts.

The evaluation involves a mixed-methods design, based on data from surveys, feedback forms and in-depth interviews with teacher trainers, teachers, and key informants from the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) in Ukraine and the staff from LEGO Ukraine involved in the roll out of the training (please refer to the table below for an overview of the data collection methods and sample sizes planned for each participant profile). Students’ experiences will be collected and understood from the perspective of teachers, to avoid putting further strain on children who are continuously exposed to extreme risk.

The data collection will be sequential – learnings from semi-structured interviews with teacher trainers and teachers will be used to inform an implementation survey with teachers and participants from the survey will be purposively selected for further interviews to probe on their responses to the survey. All teacher trainers and teachers who received the training were sent pre- and post-training surveys and feedback forms at the end of the training. Lastly, to holistically assess the quality and implementation of the training programme, key informants from LEGO Ukraine and MoES will be invited to participate in semi-structured interviews.

Participant profiles Method Sample size
Teacher trainers (Teacher Training Institute Faculty) Pre- and post-training survey ~120 (all trained)
Feedback form ~120 (all trained)
Pre-survey interview ~15
Teachers Pre- and post-training survey ~400 Primary school teachers

~400 Preschool teachers

Feedback form ~400 Primary school teachers

~400 Preschool teachers

Pre-survey interview ~3 Primary school teachers

~3 Preschool teachers

Implementation survey ~200 Primary school teachers

~200 Preschool teachers

Post-survey interview ~10 Primary school teachers

~10 Preschool teachers

MoES staff   Interview 2 – 5
LEGO Ukraine staff Interview 2 – 5


Descriptive statistics will be used as appropriate to summarise and interpret quantitative data from pre- and post-training survey and implementation survey. Open-ended questions from the surveys will be analysed thematically. Qualitative data from interviews will be analysed both inductively and deductively – while the initial codes/information categories will be derived from the research questions, additional codes will be developed as required, depending upon the data that is collected. After coding, the coded segments will be retrieved and synthesized through descriptive analysis conducted across cases to understand the patterns and variations in data for each code/information category. A comparative analysis will also be conducted to understand the similarities and variations in the data for each code across demographic variables and any other variables that might emerge inductively from the data.

Findings from this evaluation would not only provide learnings about how the Play-based MHPSS Teacher Training programme can be improved, but also contribute to a greater understanding about the impact as well as the facilitators and barriers of integrating play-based MHPSS in classrooms.