IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


The Camden Vulnerability Risk Matrix

A boy sitting down on the floor with his hands over his head, which is placed between his knees (Photo: standret / Adobe Stock)

22 February 2023

Responding to a recent increase in the incidence of youth violence in Camden, the borough created the Camden Taskforce to study the underlying causes of youth violence and understand how best to address these. Based on their findings, the taskforce issued a report, along with recommendations on how to keep Camden’s children and young people safe and help them make positive choices as they move through life.

The Vulnerability Risk Matrix project, conducted by UCL’s Centre for Inclusive Education (CIE) in partnership with Camden and William Ellis School, aimed to address two of these recommendations:

  1. Develop robust programmes to equip young people with the skills and resilience needed to make positive choices and deal with difficult situations, with a focus on the transition from primary to secondary school.
  2. Increase professional identification of those at risk of being affected by youth violence to inform effective prevention and support strategies, including appropriate referrals.


To address the recommendations issued in the Taskforce Report, the borough of Camden, in partnership with CIE, set out to co-create a ‘vulnerability matrix’. The aim of the project was to create a risk matrix that would allow school staff to identify areas of potential vulnerability that young people may encounter during the transition from primary to secondary school, which could in turn place them at greater risk of youth violence. This tool would enable school staff to respond more quickly and appropriately to children’s needs, thereby reducing their risk of becoming involved in youth violence.


The UCL team and key members of staff from Camden Learning and William Ellis school worked together to co-create the vulnerability matrix. The team first met to discuss the scope of the project, identify the project aims and requirements, and determine how best they could collaborate. The UCL and Camden teams wished to work collaboratively to draw upon both research and practical experience, to ensure the matrix captured essential information about children as they transitioned to a new setting.

Camden staff took the lead in working with their existing data sets and UCL staff carried out a literature review examining previous research, policies and reviews around the causes underlying child vulnerability. Findings from both teams contributed to the development of an initial matrix.


After the initial matrix was proposed, a focus group was held with the core team as well as practitioners from two primary schools and one secondary school in Camden. Through this, the team aimed to gather insight from other schools in the borough, to help ensure a truly co-created design that was tailored to the context in which the tool would be used. Participants discussed the different areas included in the initial matrix and provided feedback, which was further incorporated into the design.

The resulting vulnerability matrix identifies core and subsidiary areas of concern that may place a child at an increased risk of youth violence, including individual and environmental factors. This will help guide school staff to recognise signs that may put a child at-risk and act to mitigate these early, with the aim of reducing youth violence in the long term. The vulnerability matrix will be implemented within William Ellis School from 2022, with the project team aiming to build on this in subsequent years to implement the matrix across all Camden schools.


standret / Adobe Stock

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