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The role of primary schools in early intervention to prevent youth violence: Insights from work in two London boroughs


1 Jul 2020

Over the past three years, we have been supported by the Battersea Power Station Foundation to work with the London boroughs of Lambeth and Wandsworth to consider ways to apply the evidence on tackling youth violence and gang involvement, explore the way local systems support or undermine efforts to prevent violence, and build capacity within local services. This paper offers a set of insights from this work which may be helpful for policymakers, local leaders and service managers, commissioners or practitioners.

Insights paper



The paper summarises observations and recommendations on:

  • the role of primary schools, how well they are are currently able to support children at risk, and the potential of social and emotional learning
  • the wider system, including the challenges of complexity and connections between services and agencies
  • the potential of youth and community sector support, and what's required to be confident that community-level support is benefitting young people.

As the paper concludes: “Schools are essential actors within a system that facilitates effective early intervention, and they need to be recognised as such and supported to fulfil their role. Our work in these two boroughs has shown how local system dynamics can undermine this. It has underlined the crucial importance of a whole-system view on this issue, both at local and national level.”

About the author

Stephanie Waddell

Steph is assistant director for impact and knowledge mobilisation at EIF.