Evaluation of the ‘SAFE’ (Support, Attend, Fulfil, Exceed) Taskforces

A group therapy session with diverse people, photo by Yuri Arcurs peopleimages.com/Adobe Stock

Yuri Arcurs peopleimages.com/Adobe Stock

What is the issue?

Children who are disengaged from education – those with poor attendance, challenging behaviour or who are excluded – are more likely to be involved with serious violence, although these links are not clear cut. Engagement with education is, however, known to be a protective factor against a range of harms, including youth offending, with early intervention known to be beneficial in supporting pupils who are becoming disengaged and who may be increasingly vulnerable.

In 2021, the Department for Education (DfE) announced the ‘SAFE’ (Support, Attend, Fulfil, Exceed) Taskforces project in 10 local authority areas. SAFE is a programme led by mainstream schools which brings together school leaders across primary, secondary and alternative provision to work with local partners such as children’s social care, violence reduction units and voluntary sector organisations to identify children at risk and direct evidence-based interventions (such as social skills training and mentoring) at those in most need.

Programme delivery began in late 2022 and will take place over three years in ten Local Authority areas identified as serious youth violence hotspots.

How are we helping?

RAND Europe, in consortium with FFT Datalab and University of Westminster, has been commissioned by the Youth Endowment Fund to conduct an evaluation of the SAFE Taskforces in these ten areas of the country.

The evaluation aims to understand the impact of SAFE on pupils’ outcomes, including school attendance, suspensions, exclusions and involvement in serious youth violence. We are also exploring how the SAFE programme is implemented and the experiences/perceptions of those involved, as well as estimating the costs of delivering SAFE.

The evaluation will provide ongoing formative feedback to the SAFE Taskforces involved and to the Department for Education and other key partners throughout the project’s life span.