Report finds promising early data on Khulisa participants’ school attendance

In 2019, a year-long study completed in conjunction with the University of Sussex found that nearly 70% of our participants reported improved levels of social and emotional wellbeing, with advanced analysis indicating the changes to our participants’ well-being were statistically significant. In other words, the changes did not occur by chance. Elsewhere, the study found that 76% of participants said they used the positive coping skills they learned on our programmes to regulate their behaviour and more than half of respondents mentioned some sort of social skill they learned on the programme. 

To build on the learnings from this evaluation, in 2021 we launched a new multi-year study in conjunction with ImpactEd, who are experts in evaluation in the education sector and helped us develop our Theory of Change. This study seeks to evidence the benefits of our programmes on not only our core outcomes but on school-related outcomes like attainment, attendance and behaviour. 

Below are some of the key learnings from an interim report produced 1 year into this study. 

Promising results in relation to attendance  

Nationally, during the period of this evaluation, attendance levels fell by 6.74% largely due to the effects of the pandemic. By comparison, school attendance for Face It participants fell by 5.2% on average.  This is notable given that our participants are typically those who are most at risk of disengagement from school. In fact, when outliers (participants with long-term absences) are discounted, attendance for Face It participants dropped by just 0.7%. We are now working to better understand the situations of the students whose attendance results were flagged as ‘outliers’.

There were substantial increases across all the three core outcomes we target 

The interim report found that there was a substantial increase in pupil wellbeing, resilience and emotional regulation outcomes over the course of the programme. These results were particularly encouraging as our participants typically started the programme with scores below the national and scale benchmarks for all three outcomes and finished with scores above the benchmark. 

The proportion of participants who reported an increase in the core outcomes we target was also impressive: 

  • 63% of participants saw an increase in wellbeing
  • 77% of participants saw an increase in resilience
  • 62% of participants saw an increase in emotional regulation

These results are promising as they come during a period where nationally children’s social and emotional wellbeing results are either flat or in decline. 

Our programmes are particularly beneficial for students who need extra support 

The study found that there was a more pronounced increase in wellbeing and emotional regulation scores for pupil premium students (these are often students on free school meals and/or have a history of being looked after children or adopted) than non-pupil premium students. This seems to align with global research that suggests SEL programmes are particularly effective for the most disadvantaged students

Girls were another group of interest. They typically started the programme reporting lower levels of wellbeing, resilience and emotional regulation skills than boys – something that was in line with national data which suggests girls tend to have lower wellbeing scores. However, while boys typically finished the programme reporting higher scores on average, we observed the biggest increases in core outcomes among girls. These results suggest that girls may benefit from extra support during this time.


While this is an interim report with a limited sample size, we are very encouraged by the findings that our programme is contributing to significant improvements in the core outcomes we measure for all the different participant groups we support.

Over the summer, we plan to build on the lessons learnt from this interim report as we begin a review of our Face It programme. 

We will also continue to work with ImpactEd to give us a robust and externally validated view of the efficacy of our intervention by providing a comparison group and supporting us to monitor school-level data on attendance and new measures like attainment, behaviour and exclusions. Read the full report here

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