Engage in Education
Engage in Education provided small group and one-to-one support for pupils in Years 9 and 10 who were at high risk of exclusion. The programme, which was created by Catch22, focused on pupils with low attainment, prior records of truancy and exclusion, and special educational needs. Targeted pupils received sessions in areas such as communication skills and anger management, and support from a keyworker in areas of identified need over 12 weeks. School teachers were also offered training.
Testing the impact of behavioural support on pupils at risk of exclusion.
University of Cambridge
Character & essential skills
Special Educational Needs
Reducing disruptive behaviour and exclusions are important priorities for schools. However, there is relatively little good evidence on this topic.
This study found no evidence that the Engage in Education intervention reduced exclusions. In fact, fixed-term exclusions, as reported by pupils, increased slightly in treatment schools in the year of the intervention. It was not possible to draw conclusions about the impact of the programme on academic outcomes in the year of intervention due to problems with testing.
Following up the children two years later, when they took GCSEs, there was no evidence that the programme had impacts on children’s educational attainment or exclusions, compared to children in the control group. The possible negative finding immediately after the intervention was not evident at the delayed follow-up.
This approach to reducing exclusions proved difficult to implement, and was relatively high-cost. EEF will consider evaluating other approaches to improving behaviour in future funding rounds, in order to improve the evidence base in this area.
In the short term, there was no evidence that the intervention reduced exclusions. Fixed-term exclusions, as reported by pupils, increased slightly in treatment schools.
It was challenging to deliver the programme as intended. Twenty-four sessions were planned with each pupil (12 group, 12 individual) but only around seven of each took place. Although additional support to parents via phone calls and home visits were intended, few took place (n = 164 phone calls and 11 home visits).
There was no evidence that the intervention improved the number of GCSEs achieved (graded A–G), two-years post-intervention follow-up.
There was no evidence that the intervention reduced fixed-term school exclusions at two-year post-intervention follow-up. The possible negative finding immediately after the intervention was not evident at the delayed follow-up.
It was not possible to draw conclusions about the impact of the intervention on further education uptake, police arrest records, or NEET status because data access and other issues precluded analyses of these outcomes.
Full project description
The Engage in Education London intervention (EiE-L) aimed to improve the behaviour of pupils in Years 9 and 10 most at risk of exclusion. Pupils met twice a week for 12 weeks for one-to-one and group work. Sessions were led by two external youth workers trained by the delivery team, Catch22. Each of the 12 sessions had a different theme, addressing topics such as effective communication, anger management, and de-escalation. One-to-one support was provided by a keyworker in areas of identified need. In-school sessions were supplemented by home visits and phone calls with parents or care-givers. Teaching staff were also offered training on classroom behaviour management.
Seven hundred and fifty-one pupils in 36 schools were originally nominated by teachers for intervention. These pupils were identified as suitable for the programme based on (i) past problem behaviour, (ii) exclusions, or (iii) unauthorised absences from school. Seventeen schools were randomly allocated into treatment (EiE-L) and 19 to an active control (a one-day careers advice workshop). The primary outcomes were a reduction in the number of exclusions and improvements in academic attainment. The main results of the study have been reported previously (in Obsuth et al., 2016, 2017), and are summarised below. This summary focuses on follow-up data collected two years after the intervention.
The original study was funded by both the EEF and the European Commission (via a grant to the Greater London Authority). This follow-up study was funded by the EEF.