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National Evaluation of On Track Phase Two Qualitative Research on Schools' Perspectives

Lead organisation Policy Research Bureau

Background

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?

This strand of the evaluation is aimed at eliciting schools' perspectives on delivering On Track services, and schools' views on best practice for the future in this kind of early intervention programme. As well as adding to our understanding of how On Track has impacted upon users (children and parents) from the schools' perspective, this strand gave the reserch team an opportunity to externally 'validate' some of the emergent findings and conclusions from the rest of the research with this important practice audience. Issues explored included: schools' experiences of the programme; whether having On Track in the area has 'added value'; what has worked (or not worked) from their perspective; and their views on best practice for the future in this kind of early intervention programme.

What did the research involve?

The research involved a whole day event structured like a conference. The day included some standard research data collection activities (moderated group discussions), some interactive 'workshop' sessions, and a final 'plenary' session in which the participants were encouraged to help identify recommendations for sustaining and improving practice in interventions of this type. Primary schools from six areas in which On Track operated were invited to participate. The areas selected were from those areas about which we have detailed information from other strands of the evaluation. The day was structured in three distinct stages as follows:

1. Parallel group discussions, with an 'area based' focus. Moderated by a researcher, using standard qualitative research techniques (utilising a topic guide etc.)

2. Interactive workshops with a 'thematic' focus. Interactive sessions where groups were asked to deliberate and comment upon 'emerging messages' from the evaluation.

3. Plenary session focusing on future policy and practice development. Forward-looking, involving a wider discussion open to the floor.

Timescale and final products of the research

The data collection for this strand was conducted in February of 2006. No stand alone report was produced, but findings were fed into and integrated with findings of the other strands, and presented as part of the overarching synthetic report for the evaluation as a whole (due to be published in early 2008).

See Publications for details

Last updated February 2008