Skip to content

Themed grant round

A safe, positive place to learn: improving attendance and reducing exclusions in schools

In partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation

Entry deadline:
16th May 2022

Applications have now closed.


The Youth Endowment Fund’s mission is to prevent children and young people becoming involved in violence. The Education Endowment Foundation’s (EEF) mission is to break the link between family income and educational achievement. 

We’ve come together to jointly fund two grant rounds to build evidence of what works to improve attendance and reduce exclusions in schools. While this round focuses on programmes, our School choices round will fund projects to find out how school-wide practices and approaches (such as attendance monitoring and response systems or behaviour management policies) can help to improve attendance and reduce exclusions in schools.

Why we’re focusing on this area

We know that school absence – missed attendance, as well as fixed and permanent exclusion – not only impacts on students’ attainment, but also on the likelihood of them becoming involved in violence and crime.

What’s less clear is the evidence on what works to improve attendance and reduce exclusions in schools.

Through this grant round, we’re looking to find, fund, and evaluate programmes and practices in England and Wales that could both keep children safe from involvement in violence and improve academic attainment.


Applications for funding opened on Wednesday 16 March 2022 and closed on Monday 16 May 2022.

Funded projects

The following projects have been awarded funding from the YEF and EFF.

Behavioural Insights Team – Grassroots

  • Project name: Grassroots
  • School programme type: Anti-bullying programme
  • Evaluation type: Efficacy study (randomised control trial)
  • Evaluator: UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society (IOE)
  • Funding: £1,304,773

Grassroots is a two-part programme, aimed at empowering well-connected pupils to influence attitudes among their peers. Specially trained researchers help to administer a survey in a school, asking pupils about who they’ve had contact with recently. This allows them to identify the best-connected pupils, who are in turn invited to attend fortnightly sessions where they learn how to encourage positive behaviours among their classmates.

Behavioural Insights Team – BITUP

  • Project name: BITUP
  • School programme: Parent communications programme
  • Evaluation type: Efficacy study (randomised control trial)
  • Evaluator: Kantar Public
  • Funding: £637,506

This programme involves tailored communications (usually a text message) being sent to parents or carers when their child’s attendance falls under 95% in any given term. This should include messages about the number of days a child has missed and the importance of attending school for a child’s learning. It builds on evidence from the United States that this boosted presence in school, as well as a trial in Bristol (which was interrupted due to the pandemic).

United Against Bullying +

  • Project name: United Against Bullying +
  • School programme type: Anti-bullying programme
  • Evaluation type: Pilot study
  • Evaluator: Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families
  • Funding: £605,641

United Against Bullying Plus (UAB+) is a whole-school anti-bullying programme for secondary schools, delivered in partnership with Kidscape.

Schools on the programme will be supported over the two academic years to develop an innovative whole-school approach to reducing bullying, and deliver direct interventions to support children most at risk of perpetrating, and experiencing bullying.

Participating schools receive access to a whole-school audit tool and action plan, an online pupil wellbeing and bullying questionnaire, and a range of support from ABA and Kidscape, including:

  • an anti-bullying expert assigned to the school for two years to provide tailored support;
  • a range of CPD anti-bullying training courses for all school staff including a face to face inset day training;
  • workshops for pupils who have been bullied and their parents/​carers;
  • a package of support for those perpetrating bullying; and
  • support for improved parent/​carer communication.

Future Men

  • Project name: Boys Development Programme
  • School programme: Social and emotional learning
  • Evaluation type: Pilot study
  • Evaluator: Cordis Bright
  • Funding: £951,890

Future Men’s programme aims to address the behavioural causes of school exclusion in boys. It does it by helping them understand the relationship between emotions and behaviour, so that they can develop emotional awareness, self-awareness and self-control. Boys are referred into the programme by teachers, and they all have a one-to-one meeting with a member of project staff, to help identify they support they need. They then complete between six to twelve sessions, which could involve one-to-one sessions (for children who have the most significant needs) or group sessions.

Ormiston Academies Trust

  • Project name: Trauma-informed short-term managed intervention centres
  • School programme: Internal alternative provision
  • Evaluation type: Pilot study
  • Evaluator: Centre for Evidence and Implementation
  • Funding: £716,882

This project offers five-week placements away from school for children who have behavioural difficulties. During their time at a specialised centre, children take part in daily scheduled lessons in core subjects and Relationship, Sex and Health Education (RSHE). The bespoke curriculum addresses the reasons why students are having issues in school, and covers subjects such as emotions and the brain, anger management, and resilience and self-esteem.