• Background

    HeadStart is a major programme funded by Big Lottery, which involves areas across England trialing a broad range of initiatives for improving resilience in children and young people aged 10-16, who may be facing challenges to their emotional wellbeing.

    Big Lottery has committed £55m to fund six local authority-led partnerships - in Blackpool, Cornwall, Hull, Kent, Newham and Wolverhampton.

    HeadStart programmes involve a partnership between schools, voluntary sector providers and young people themselves as well as a range of other agencies who seek to support young people and build resilience. Each partnership bases their approach on the local context and trials different ways to help children and young people to:

    • Stay mentally healthy
    • Manage stress and worries
    • Do well at school
    • Avoid getting involved in risky behaviour, such as drug use
    • Enjoy life

    All HeadStart partnerships include universal help (aiming to work with every person in a given school or year group) and providing targeted help for those who might find extra support helpful.  Over 7 years, the learning team led by the Centre will support the partnerships in collecting and analysing data and disseminating and implementing what they have learnt so that the approaches can be gradually improved.

  • Aims

    The Quantitative and Qualitative elements aim to identify: 

    • Is the mental well-being of young people, receiving HeadStart, improving?
    • Is the onset of diagnosable mental health conditions among young people, receiving HeadStart, reducing?
    • Is the academic engagement and attainment of young people, receiving HeadStart, improving? Is the employability of young people, having received HeadStart, improving?
    • Is the incidence of risky behaviour amongst young people, receiving HeadStart, reducing, for instance: engagement in criminal activity, engagement in substance abuse and teenage pregnancy?
    • To examine local implementation of HeadStart at each partnership
    • To explore mechanisms of impact of the interventions at each partnership

    The Capacity building aspect aims to:

    • Support the strengthening of the capacity and capability of individual partnerships to collect, collate and interpret relevant data and;
    • Implement improvements to the programme as a result 

    The economic learning strand aims to:

    • Facilitate the development of a common tool to assess HeadStart’s Value of Money and;
    • Support partnerships with its implementation

     The evaluation of programme elements aims to:

    • Execute a number of summative evaluations of individual programme elements to identify what works for whom.
  • Methodology

    The project will keep young people in the lead, whilst working collaboratively with the partnerships to generate and facilitate:

    •          Quantitative learning;
    •          Qualitative learning;
    •          Best practice and dissemination;
    •          Capacity building;
    •          Economic learning;
    •          Evaluation of programme elements.
  • Research Project Team

    Learning Project Team

    • Jessica Deighton
    • Miranda Wolpert
    • Melissa Cortina
    • Tanya Lereya
    • Emily Stapley
    • Kate Dalzell
    • CORC Regional Officers


    •          Neil Humphrey (University of Manchester)
    •          Eva Bonin (London School of Economics)
    •          Kate Martin (Common Room)
    •          Mia Eisenstadt (Reos Partners)