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National Evaluation of On Track Phase Two - General Overview


A consortium led by the Policy Research Bureau was commissioned to conduct the National Evaluation of Phase Two of On Track, a major initiative funded by the Derpartment for Education and Skills, as part of the Children's Fund, aimed at reducing youth crime. The other consortium members were the National Centre for Social Research and the Jill Dando Institute for Crime Science, University College London.

On Track, established in 24 areas across England and Wales, was originally devised by the Home Office in 1999 as a pilot or 'demonstration' programme as part of their wider Crime Reduction Programme (CRP). The aim of the CRP was to reduce crime by designing preventative and responsive measures based on researched and evidence-based initiatives that demonstrate 'what works' in crime prevention. The On Track model consisted of six types of intervention with families and young people aged 4-12 years old: home visiting, pre-school education; parent support and training; family therapy; and home-school partnerships; plus a sixth 'specialist' category. The aim was to target risk factors for youth crime, and boost protective factors. The first phase of the On Track evaluation was conducted by the University of Sheffield.

What did the research focus on?

The overarching aims of Phase Two of the National Evaluation were:

  • To understand the outcomes of On Track. How well did On Track work to reduce known risk factors for crime and related poor outcomes? How well did it bolster potential protective factors for the children, families and communities it served?
  • To understand implementation issues. What was the experience of On Track practitioners in setting up and delivering the services? What were the experiences of On Track users?

What did the research involve?

Phase Two consisted of seven main strands of research:

  • Schools survey: assesses the impact on schools and upon pupils of being in an On Track area (lead organisation: PRB).
  • Tracking strand: provides central monitoring information about each of the 24 On Track areas and about On Track as a whole (lead organisation: PRB).
  • Community profiling: collection of neighbourhood level statistics to describe the communities in which On Track services are being delivered (lead organisation: University of Liverpool)
  • Cohort Study: employing both qualitative and quantitative approaches examines the short to medium-term impacts of On Track on children and families who use its services and compare the impacts according to types and level of intervention (lead organisations: National Centre for Social Research and PRB)
  • Qualitative research amongst service providers: explores the experiences of service providers with regard to what worked, unexpected outcomes, barriers and enabling factors in achieving medium/long term outcomes (lead organisations: National Centre for Social Research and PRB).
  • Qualitative research amongst service users: explores the experiences of users of On Track services in six areas.
  • Qualitative research with schools: Collected the perspectives of key personnel in primary schools in On Track areas at a day-workshop held in Birmingham in 2006 .

Timescale and final products of the research

Each strand of the evaluation had an individual timetable for sampling design, data collection and analysis. A final report synthesising the results across the evaluation as a whole will be published in early 2008.

Last updated February 2008