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National Evaluation of On Track Phase Two Qualitative Research amongst Service Users Strand

Lead organisations: National Centre for Social Research and Policy Research Bureau


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 On Track evaluation was designed to complement the cohort survey strand by following up families and children in particular situations. The data were used to help with the interpretation of the cohort survey findings, especially with regards to how On Track impacted on the lives of children and families.

What did the research involve?

42 parents and 18 children (aged 7 and upwards) were interviewed in a total of six On Track areas.

Data collection was by in-depth one-to-one interviewing in respondents' homes

Parents were asked questions relating to the general family background; experiences of their child at school (e.g. academic achievement, bullying, truancy, exclusion); their involvement in their child's education; how and why they started using On Track services; experiences of On Track and other family support services; type of interventions/services utilised and if changed over time; incidences of 'dropping out' of On Track if relevant.

Children were asked information about themselves, their families and the area they live in; their relationship with family members (e.g. parents, siblings, grandparents); experiences at school/pre-school (e.g. likes and dislikes), misbehaviour, truancy; relationship with teachers/childcare workers; how they spend their time when they are not at school/pre-school; relationships with friends and peer groups; experiences of and attitudes to smoking, drinking, drug use, anti-social behaviour and crime; family support services (e.g. experiences of using these, likes and dislikes, perceptions of how they might have helped them and their families).

Timescale and final products of the research

Data collection took place in 2006. The final report will be published in early 2008

See Publications for details

Last updated February 2008