With funds from the Education Endowment Foundation (EFF), Catch22 collaborated with EEF, the Greater London Authority and the University of Cambridge Institute of Criminology on a long-term study of the impact of Engage in Education on exclusions.
The project, using the Engage in Education delivery model, delivered one of two interventions to students at high risk of fixed-term exclusions in Years 9 and 10 across 36 London schools. Of these schools, 17 received an intensive intervention of one-to-one and group work support and the other 19 received a lighter intervention. Approximately 20 students per school were engaged in two full terms: Autumn 2013 and Spring 2014 (with 10 students in each term).
Eligibility of participating schools was decided by the percentage of students eligible for free school meals and location in London. The type of intervention each school received was determined by a randomisation process undertaken by the team of researchers from the University of Cambridge.
Intensive interventions included group work and targeted one-to-one support. Each participating young person was engaged in a 12-week, structured group work programme led by Catch22 staff that worked on improving social, emotional and communication skills – building on research that suggested a lack of these skills underpins academic problems and challenging behaviour. This intervention and its resources was developed by Catch22 and national children’s communication charity I CAN.
Students received an allocated worker who guided them throughout the 12-week period and worked with them on individual targets and goals during weekly one-to-one meetings. Where appropriate, an element of family support, including home visits, was provided in order to ensure a comprehensive approach. The level of support provided varied according to the needs of each young person involved.
Staff who delivered the intervention together with nominated school staff were supported by Communication Advisers from I CAN, who equipped staff with the appropriate strategies and frameworks to identify and improve communication needs.
Communication Advisors worked with staff to raise awareness of the importance of identifying whether young people had hidden communication needs that were affecting attendance, attainment and engagement.
For light interventions, trained Catch22 volunteers from Accenture and Venn Group delivered one-off workshops addressing employability skills to groups of young people, providing an insight into the world of work and facilitating discussions around employment.
The primary objective was to understand more about the likelihood of exclusion and its drivers, which included:
- young people’s communication and general social skills
- frequency of behavioural problems as measured by school exclusions or detentions
- academic performance, in particular whether GCSEs were taken and how many, and GCSE exam results
- the risk of arrests and criminal convictions during compulsory schooling.
Outcomes of the Engage in Education model typically include improved attendance, increased attainment and improved overall communication within school.
The project finished in May 2014 and an independent evaluation of the provision by researchers at the University of Cambridge was undertaken.