School exclusion as a disciplinary measure remains a controversial issue. In spite of numerous attempts to reduce this practice, no solutions with documented effectiveness exist. This article reports results of a cluster-randomized controlled field trial carried out in 36 schools across London. The trial is an independent evaluation of a 12-week-long intervention, Engage in Education-London (EiE-L), delivered by Catch22. The intervention was aimed at students in secondary school who are most at risk of school exclusion. It targeted their social communication and broader social skills with the aim of reducing school exclusions and problem behaviors. The study employed a multi-informant design that included students and teacher reports as well as official records for exclusions and arrests. Data were analyzed through intent-to-treat analyses based on self-reports from 644 students and 685 teacher reports for students who were nominated for the study and for whom data was available at baseline or post-intervention. At baseline data collection the students ranged in age from 12.85 to 15.03, with M = 14.03; 71 % were male and included a number of ethnic minorities, the largest of which was black African/black Caribbean comprising 40 % of the sample. The results suggested a small but statistically significant negative effect on the primary outcome of exclusion and null effects for the secondary outcomes that measured behavioral and socio-emotional outcomes. The study’s findings are discussed in terms of the possible reasons for the null effects and negative (iatrogenic) effect.
- school exclusion
- cluster-randomized controlled trial
- school-based intervention