Children’s and Young People’s Social and Emotional Wellbeing (CaYP-SEW)

Submitting Institution

Keele University

Unit of Assessment

Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Medical and Health Sciences: Public Health and Health Services

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Summary of the impact

This case study describes the policy and practice impacts of a series of studies by Claire Fox and colleagues on children's and young people's social and emotional wellbeing, in particular counselling provision in schools and domestic abuse prevention education. The research on the effectiveness of school counselling has been used by the Welsh Assembly to argue for a national roll-out of counselling in Welsh secondary schools. It is also being used by those responsible for commissioning counselling services in England and Northern Ireland. The research on young people and domestic abuse (DA) centres on the evaluation of a particular DA prevention programme delivered in North Staffordshire by local charity Arch. This organisation has benefited substantially from the research findings in terms of sustaining their work in schools. The research has also had a broader impact in terms of influencing UK, and European, policy on DA prevention education in schools.

Underpinning research

As a result of her expertise on children's social development Fox (at Keele as Research Assistant 2001-3, Teaching Fellow 2004-5, Lecturer 2005-2011, Senior Lecturer 2011-present) joined a national evaluation of the work of the NSPCC Schools Teams (2001-2003). This project, led by Ian Butler (Professor at Keele 2001-2005) involved evaluating the effectiveness of school counselling, through the use of the TEEN CORE questionnaire which was completed by children before and after they received counselling. Fox took the lead in designing and overseeing this aspect of the evaluation. This was the first study of its kind in the UK to adopt a rigorous pre and post-test design, finding that there was a significant improvement in the children's well-being from before to after the counselling (sample of 219 children). A survey and focus groups with children highlighted some potential barriers to children accessing school counselling.

From 2010-2013, Fox was a co-investigator on the project working with Gadd (Senior Lecturer at Keele until December 2010, now at Manchester University) and Butler (now Bath University) on the ESRC-funded project `From Boys to Men' (2010-2013). This included the evaluation of a DA prevention education programme called `Relationships without Fear', delivered by Arch (a North Staffordshire charity). Fox took the lead for Phase 1 of the research, which involved young people completing questionnaires to assess their attitudes towards, and experiences of, abuse. Using an `Attitudes towards Domestic Violence' (ADV) questionnaire developed in collaboration with Arch, it was found that children's attitudes became less accepting of abuse from before to after the intervention in comparison to children in control-group schools, and this change was maintained at the three-month follow-up (Sample size of 1203). The research also addressed the question of whether the intervention was more or less effective for certain groups of young people, e.g. boys and those with previous experience of abuse. The outcomes were not found to vary across these groups.

In addition, working with partners in five European countries, Fox and Gadd compared Arch's programme in primary schools with other domestic abuse prevention education programmes in France and Spain. This project (called REaDAPt — Relationship Education and Domestic Abuse Prevention Tuition) was funded by the EU under the Daphne III stream (2011-2013). Fox oversaw the research stream of the project. The evaluation of the programmes involved the ADV questionnaire survey and focus groups with children and young people. Over 2,000 children were involved in the research project which had a wider remit than research evaluation; it involved a cycle of implementation and evaluation, with good practice being shared across three partner organisations to develop a new educational toolkit for those wishing to implement such programmes in schools. A research toolkit was also produced for those wishing to evaluate the programmes they develop and implement. Both toolkits are being used to establish new service provision in Malta.

References to the research


• NSPCC funded project, `Evaluation of the NSPCC Schools Teams'. Butler (Keele) PI, 2001- 2003; £118,000.

• ESRC funded project `From Boys to Men', Gadd (Keele/Manchester) PI; 2010-2013; £385,000.

• EU Daphne III funded project `REaDAPt'; Gadd (Manchester) PI; Fox: research stream lead; 2011-2013; EURO309,000

School Counselling

• Fox, C. L., & Butler, I. (2007). "If you don't want to tell anyone else you can tell her": Young people's views on school counselling. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 35(1), 97-114. DOI: 10.1080/03069880601106831.


• Fox, C. L., & Butler I. (2009). Evaluating the effectiveness of a school-based counselling service in the UK. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 37(2), 95-106. DOI: 10.1080/03069880902728598.


Domestic Abuse

• Fox, C. L., Corr, M-L., Gadd, D., & Butler, I. (2013) `Young teenagers' experiences of domestic abuse: A case for early prevention?'. Journal of Youth Studies online publication. DOI: 10.1080/13676261.2013.780125


• Fox, C. L., Hale, R., & Gadd, D. (2013) `Domestic abuse prevention education: Listening to the views of young people'. Sex Education online publication. DOI: 10.1080/14681811.2013.816949


• Gadd, D. Corr, M-L, Fox, C. L., & Butler, I. (in press). This is abuse... or is it? Domestic abuse perpetrators' responses to anti-domestic violence publicity. Crime, Media and Culture. Available from All are Journal Articles that have been peer reviewed.


Details of the impact

School Counselling
Children spend a great deal of their time in school and there are good reasons for locating counselling provisions within the school setting. Evidence of effectiveness is needed to justify rolling out counselling provision on a much broader scale. The work by Fox and Butler on the evaluation of the NSPCC School's Teams provided evidence as to the effectiveness of school counselling and showed that most young people value school counselling. The research has contributed to policy and practice initiatives throughout the UK. The findings (Fox and Butler 2007; 2009) were cited in the Welsh Assembly final evaluation report in 2011. The Welsh Government also drew on Fox and Butler's unpublished report for the NSPCC (2003) in its review of school counselling which subsequently led to every secondary school in Wales having access to counselling provision for their pupils. The research was cited in a report by Queen's University Belfast, commissioned by the Department of Education in Northern Ireland, as part of a programme to promote pupils' emotional health and well-being. The London Borough of Richmond- upon-Thames also referred to the research findings (Fox & Butler, 2009) in their report on the value of commissioning counselling in schools in the borough (2012-2013). Fox & Butler (2009) highlighted issues to consider when setting up a school counselling service. This was referred to in a report for the Children's Workforce Development Council as an example of good practice — one of a series of reports that aim to improve ways of working. Other evidence of impact on policy and practice was a briefing document by Barnardo's (2012) which referred to the work by Fox and Butler.

Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse (DA) creates immense human suffering and financial costs. There is an urgent need to develop a scientific understanding of the impact of education programmes on this issue. Fox's research provides evidence on the effectiveness of DA education in schools and develops guidelines for good practice with respect to education programmes. Findings from the `Boys to Men' research have also given practitioners guidance on how to identify those at risk and how best to intervene with this group. The findings from this project continue to be disseminated and there is increasing evidence of their impact on policy and practice.

The findings from the `Boys to Men' project were used by a working group including Arch (a Staffordshire charity) to successfully tender to provide DA services in Stoke-on-Trent (including a schools-based programme). This has enabled Arch to secure continued funding for the project despite recent cuts to public spending. Presentations at Arch's annual domestic violence conference (Nov 2010 and Nov 2012), and the first-year dissemination event at Keele University (June 2011), provided an opportunity to further influence local policy through discussion with commissioners in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. Fox has promoted broader discussion of the research findings through the local media, including interviews with BBC Radio Stoke, (24/06/11 and 28/03/13), and key articles in local newspapers, e.g., the Stoke-on-Trent Sentinel newspaper (`Teens exposed to worrying levels of abuse', 21/03/13) and the Burton Mail (`Lessons needed to end abuse at home say Keele University researchers', 28/03/13).

The research findings were also the subject of discussion by a range of practitioners at several forums elsewhere in the UK. Fox presented initial findings at an event in Bristol attended by over 100 practitioners, organised by Marianne Hester (20th Sep 2012). Attendees came from across the UK including employees social services departments, and organisations such as Women's Aid, Barnardo's, and the NSPCC. Television and radio appearances also generated substantial discussion as was evidenced by subsequent communications. Fox was interviewed on on BBC Radio 4 Women's Hour (18/07/11), on BBC Midlands Today, and on BBC West Midlands Radio (both on 11/04/2013). The research was also covered by the Guardian (11/04/13) and the Telegraph (27/03/13).

The UK and regional governments expressed an interest in the research findings. Gadd and Fox were invited to the Home Office to present their findings in March 2013. The Home Office was particularly interested in details of the research on young people's perceptions of the Home Office `This is Abuse' campaign (the findings in press in Crime, Media and Culture). In 2013, Fox and Gadd discussed their research with officials from both the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Executive. They also took their research road-show to meetings with the NSPCC and Barnardo's.

Finally, the research team deliberately engaged in discussion with women's and community organisations. They organised a forum in Manchester (24th October 2013) which attracted over 100 attendees from RESPECT, the End Violence Against Women Campaign, as well as representatives from the Youth Justice Board, Personal Social Health and Economic Education Association, and the Home Office. Following the success of this event, it was agreed to work closely with these organisations to further develop good practice guidance to better address the needs of boys at risk of becoming perpetrators. To maximise impact the team developed user- friendly research reports as well as a `research toolkit' for those wishing to conduct research with children in schools; this includes a short film of Fox talking about the challenges that the team encountered during Phase 1 and how these were addressed. These are available on the website.

The Daphne funded REaDAPt project involved evaluating three DA prevention education programmes in the UK, France and Spain, sharing best practice, and using the best elements of the programmes to develop an educational toolkit for those wishing to implement such programmes in schools (e.g. teachers and social workers across Europe). The toolkit was completed in English in 2012, and is available on the project website. A research toolkit was also produced in 2012 (also available on the website) to enable those wishing to run such programmes to evaluate their practice (using the ADV and focus group methodology). Fox took the lead in promoting use of these toolkits through the organisation of events aimed at teachers. The event in Malta (March 2012) attracted over 100 teachers and there are plans to further expand uptake and to continue to evaluate this new service provision. There are plans to promote wider uptake of the projects findings in other EU countries. A dissemination event in Brussels (January 2013) attracted Members of the European Parliament and promoted discussion on access to resources The toolkits are free to download by anyone interested in developing school-based DA prevention education provision across Europe (versions in English, French and Spanish).

Findings from the focus groups raised questions about good practice in relation to DA prevention education. To maximise impact, the findings were published in the interdisciplinary journal Sex Education (2013).

Finally, the three grassroots organisations studied by the research have benefited from the research. They findings have provided their staff with the knowledge, skills and tools to enable them to continue to evaluate what they do. The organisations have also used the findings to argue for continued funding for their DA prevention work.

Sources to corroborate the impact

School Counselling

Domestic Abuse and Young People

  • Fox, C. L., Gadd, D., and Corr, M-L. (2010). Boys to Men first report: Findings from the pilot evaluation of relationships without fear — report for practitioners. Available upon request.
  • Fox, C. L., Corr, M-L., Gadd, D., & Butler (2013). From Boys to Men: Phase one key findings. Available from the project website,
  • Stoke City Council.
  • Hale, R., Fox, C. L., Gadd, D. (2012). REaDAPt research report: Evaluation of three European schools-based domestic violence prevention education programmes.
  • Independent evaluator of REaDAPt project, University of Linkoping.
  • du Cote Des Femmes.
  • Home Office.