Purpose – This paper seeks to report on the evaluation of Zippy’s Friends, an international
emotional wellbeing programme, for primary school children in disadvantaged schools in Ireland. The
paper aims to present case studies of the profile and ethos of two specific schools participating in the
programme, their links with the local community, the degree of parental involvement and the factors
that influence programme implementation in the local context.
Design/methodology/approach – Within the framework of the overall evaluation study, which
employs a randomised controlled design, two schools self-selected to participate in case studies.
Employing interviews and group discussions, the case study method was used to explore the views of
teachers, pupils, parents and key informants from the wider community on the delivery of the
programme within the context of a whole school approach.
Findings – The findings from two contrasting schools are presented, a large urban school with a
multi-cultural profile in an area of multiple disadvantage, and a smaller, almost monocultural, rural
school on the border region with Northern Ireland. The findings reveal largely positive attitudes on the
benefits of the programme and support for a whole school approach. The data indicate contrasting
levels of parental involvement in the two schools and highlight the importance of socio- economic and
cultural influences in the local communities and the challenges these present for effective
Research limitations/implications – The paper explores the specific contextual factors in two
schools and may, therefore, lack generalisability. However, this effort to focus on the specific local
context is useful within the framework of the overall randomised control trial evaluation study.
Practical implications – The reality of implementing an emotional wellbeing programme in
disadvantaged school settings and effectively engaging teachers, parents and the wider community, is
explored through the use of case study methods.
Originality/value – The paper explores the real-life context of two schools participating in the
Zippy’s Friends programme and provides an insight into the contextual factors impacting on
programme implementation in disadvantaged school settings.