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After-school programmes

Programmes which take place after school and involve academic support, enrichment, or social skills development.

Estimated impact on violent crime:

LOW

Evidence quality:

1 2 3 4 5

Cost:

1 2 3

Prevention Type

  • Primary
  • Secondary

Setting

  • Community
  • School and college

Themes

  • A safe neighbourhood (including online)
  • A safe, positive place to learn

What is it?

This summary focuses on organised programmes which take place after school for children who would otherwise be unsupervised. There are two ways in which these programmes might protect children against exploitation and involvement in crime and violence. The time immediately after school finishes can be where a large proportion of violence between children occurs. After-school programmes could prevent violence by supervising children during this time. The activities in after-school programmes could also lead to skill development, school engagement and pro-social behaviour.

After-school programmes are typically implemented in school buildings but can be delivered by either school or external staff. Programmes often take place regularly throughout the school week and involve activities, such as:

  • Academic support, tutoring or help with homework
  • Enrichment activities including sport or art
  • Activities to develop social and conflict resolution skills
  • Mentoring, typically as one component in a multi-component programme

Is it effective?

On average, the research suggests the impact of after-school programmes on violent crime is likely to be low.

The research suggests that, on average, after-school programmes can reduce crime overall by 8% and externalising behaviours by 14%. Although the average finding suggests a small positive impact, the underlying studies are mixed. Some programmes have led to increases in crime and others to decreases. Research has explored several possible explanations for the variation in findings. This evidence is described under ‘How can you implement it well?’ below.

On average, after-school programmes can reduce crime overall by 8% and externalising behaviours by 14%

How secure is the evidence?

We have high confidence in the headline impact estimate.

The estimate is based on a high-quality review. The available research has directly measured the impact on crime but has not separated out the impact on violence within this. We have not awarded the highest evidence rating because there is a lot of variation in the estimates provided by the underlying research.

We used the findings from two systematic reviews to write this summary and the reviews included one study from the UK.

How can you implement it well?

Use activities to develop useful skills

Researchers have attempted to understand how impacts vary according to whether the programme focused on academic, recreation, skills training, or mentoring activities. This research is based on a small number of studies and provides relatively weak evidence. However, it suggests that after-school programmes that only include recreation or non-academic activities have been less effective than programmes which aim to develop academic or other personal and social skills.

Consider focusing activity on adolescents

Programmes working with children aged 11-14 have tended to have larger impacts on supporting positive behaviour than programmes working with younger children. However, this finding is based on a small number of studies. Although many studies have looked at the impact on 11-14 year olds, only three studies have focused on younger children.

Provide engaging and fun activities

The YEF’s evidence and gap map contains two evaluations which examined the implementation of programmes in England and Wales. Both studies emphasized the value of a less formal environment than in school and engaging children by providing fun and interesting activities, whilst also providing supervision and structure.

How much does it cost?

On average, the cost of after-school programmes is likely to be low.

The Education Endowment Foundation estimates that after-school clubs cost, on average, £7 per session per pupil. A weekly session would therefore cost £273 per pupil over the course of a 39-week school year. The use of more intensive activities requiring trained staff would increase these cost estimates.

Topic summary

  • On average, the impact of after-school programmes on violent crime is likely to be low.
  • However, there is a lot of variation in impact. Some programmes have led to an increase in the number of children involved in crime.
  • Consideration of the research presented in other Toolkit topics (such as social skills training and mentoring) could support the design of effective after-school programmes. Could you use after-school programmes as an opportunity to deliver these highly effective activities?
  • There is a lack of research from England and Wales. Future research should prioritise studies in this context which directly measure the impact on violent crime.

Extended school time in the EEF Toolkit
A summary of the research on the impact of after-school programmes on academic attainment.

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© 2022 The Youth Endowment Fund Charitable Trust. Registered Charity Number: 1185413.
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