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Partnership Award in focus: Dundee and Includem Raising Attainment Project

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Unlike awards made through our open application process, Partnership Awards are managed by our Innovation and Learning team and aim to test approaches and build understanding of “what works and why” for complex social issues within our priority themes. Find out more about these awards here.

One of our most recent partnership awards, the Dundee and Includem Raising Attainment Project, is an intervention that aims to improve the emotional wellbeing of secondary school pupils.

With this award and funding from the Scottish Attainment Challenge Fund, Dundee City Council is working with Includem, a specialist charity which provides intensive, personalised support for vulnerable young people and their families, to offer enhanced support to S1 and S2 pupils across its eight secondary schools.

Launched in January 2017, the project will see Includem become an integral part of the schools’ pupils support teams, providing support both in and out of school to both the pupil and their family, with the aim of improving at-risk pupil’s educational engagement and, as a result, attainment.

Project background

Our Innovation and Learning team’s interest in preventative, school-based interventions initially developed as a result of learning from our funded projects around young people leaving custody.

With our evidence consistently pointing to exclusion from school being one of the most prominent predictors of gaining a criminal record in adult life, we worked with Dundee City Council and three third sector organisations - Includem, Skillforce and Apex - to launch Inclusion Plus across four of the city’s secondary schools in October 2013. The summary report can be accessed here.

Operating for just under three years, the project helped to take Dundee’s higher-than-average exclusion rates in line with the national average, and its external evaluation provided key learning to take forward to the Dundee and Includem Raising Attainment Project, phase two of the project.

Looking beyond reducing exclusion

While the goal of Inclusion Plus was to reduce school exclusion, phase two focuses on improving pupils’ educational engagement and wellbeing.

This shift is firstly as a result of the aforementioned drop in Dundee’s exclusion rates, but secondly due to a greater focus on early intervention and therefore addressing issues before they escalate to the stage that a pupil becomes at risk of exclusion.

Key enhancements in the new project include:

  • DCC’s established partnership with Includem will continue with an increased number of pupils now able to access this service.
  • the capacity of schools’ pupil support teams has been increased and they will provide some of the in-school support themselves
  • the project will extend to all of Dundee’s eight secondary schools, allowing pupil support teams to refer pupils directly to Includem
  • the project will allow support to be offered earlier in a pupil’s case, before social work and external agencies start to become involved
  • the project will continue to focus on S1 and S2 pupils who are engaged with pupil support teams (including pupils in transition to S1 from feeder primary schools)

What’s next?

The Dundee and Includem Raising Attainment Project runs until June 2019 and will be externally evaluated until that time.

It is our hope that the project will help improve the wellbeing of families and young people and, as a result, raise attainment levels and ability to progress onto sustained, positive destinations.

With the cost of exclusion being estimated at double the cost of keeping a young person in mainstream education, we also hope the service may highlight potential cost savings to the public purse in both the short and long term, and become a model that is adopted by other local authorities in the country.

As with all of our Innovation and Learning work, we are interested to discover both what has and hasn’t worked about this approach, and share this learning to help inform policy and practice.

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