Impetus launches £3m 'Engage Fund' to tackle school exclusions

Impetus Henry Smith

Impetus partners with The Henry Smith Charity to launch ‘Engage Fund’ backing charities tackling school exclusions

  • Impetus and The Henry Smith Charity launch initiative to build excellence in exclusion prevention and alternative provision
  • The £3 million Fund will support five organisations pioneering a range of interventions, to build an evidence base on what works for at risk and excluded pupils

Youth charity Impetus and The Henry Smith Charity are launching a new fund to tackle the rising number of school exclusions and improve outcomes for young people in alternative provision (AP) in England.

There has been a 40% rise in the number of pupils permanently excluded from school since 2013, with almost 50,000 pupils attending AP settings and Pupil Referral Units (PRUS) at the start of 2020.

Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are disproportionately represented in this number, with 45% eligible for Pupil Premium funding. Excluded children are also more likely to have special educational needs (SEN), have contact with social services or experience mental health issues. They are a vulnerable group who need tailored support to overcome challenges and thrive.

Educational attainment is far lower for pupils in AP settings compared to pupils in the State sector as a whole - just 4.5% of these students achieve English and maths 9-4 passes at GCSE, compared to 65% in mainstream schools. The long-term effect is that pupils in alternative provision are over-represented in NEET outcomes and within the criminal justice system.

Over the course of five years, the Engage Fund will provide £3 million of funding and support to five innovative organisations pioneering high-quality interventions to help more young people who are struggling to engage in mainstream education, by helping them develop essential life skills, reintegrate into school when appropriate and achieve the qualifications they need.

These organisations are The Difference, Think for the Future, Olive Academies Multi-Academy Trust, MCR Pathways and Transforming Lives for Good.

Eleanor Harrison, CEO of Impetus said:

“Education isn’t just about academic learning, it’s about wider social and emotional support that helps young people to develop confidence and essential skills that will serve them in adult life. This fund is an opportunity to rethink how we can tailor support to children who are excluded from school, many of whom are extremely vulnerable.

“Only by investing in building the evidence of what interventions really make an impact, can we create a system that works for young people, helping them to realise their potential and identify their path to success.

“The Henry Smith Charity has an exceptional track record of backing organisations to bring lasting change to people's lives and we are excited to collaborate with them on this necessary work.”

Nick Acland, Director at The Henry Smith Charity said:

“We are delighted and excited to be working with Impetus on the Engage Fund. We identified young people at risk of exclusion or in alternative provision as an area of particular need and one where we felt we could have a really positive impact by making a strategic grant.

“Working with Impetus will maximise the effectiveness of the grant by supporting the development of some of the leading organisations in this field in order to bring about lasting positive change.”


For more information and interviews, please contact the press team at

Notes for Editors

About exclusions / AP

  • Over 40% of students in alternative provision receive Free School Meals (FSM) compared to an average of 14% in mainstream schools
  • 77% of students in alternative provision have a SEN or disability, compared to 14% in all schools. Most have social, emotional or mental health needs which has implications for their behaviour – this is estimated at one in two pupils in alternative provision (vs one in 50 in the general population)
  • 4.5% of students in alternative provision attain English and maths 9-4 passes at GCSE, compared to 65% in mainstream schools
  • Around one third of students leaving alternative provision at age 16 do not sustain EET, compared to one in twenty leaving mainstream schools
  • 42% of people within the criminal justice system were permanently excluded from mainstream education (63% when including fixed-term exclusions)

About the Engage Fund

  • The Engage Fund is a co-investment initiative by Impetus and The Henry Smith Charity. It will provide £3 million in funding and support to five organisations working in the exclusions space. It will commence in June 2021 and run for five years,
  • The five selected organisations are The Difference, Think for the Future, Olive Academies Trust, MCR Pathways and Transforming Lives for Good.

About The Henry Smith Charity

The Henry Smith Charity is an independent grant making trust. We aim to use our resources to help people and communities at a time of need and to bring about positive change. We work to combat disadvantage and meet the challenges and opportunities facing people in need throughout the UK.

About the Engage Fund Charities

The Difference creates specialist senior school leaders, with the expertise to lead whole-school and multi-agency approaches to meeting the learning, wellbeing and safeguarding needs of all children, and most crucially those with high levels of need and vulnerability.

Think for the Future operates a data driven Behaviour & Resilience Intervention to tackle barriers to learning by positioning high quality, relatable and integrated TFTF mentors and Inclusion Centre Managers into schools to deliver a structured intervention to improve pupil outcomes and inspire positive change.

Olive Academies Multi-Academy Trust specialises in Alternative Provision and focuses on encouraging students to develop the confidence, skills and knowledge to believe that they can be successful in their own lives.

MCR Pathways uses mentoring to support young people with diverse, engaging and inspiring opportunities to help them identify their talent and have the confidence to progress to a positive post-school destination.

Transforming Lives for Good partners with churches to put emotional wellbeing at the centre of its programmes, using a trauma-responsive approach to help reduce the long-term effects on children who are struggling.

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