AS Tracking

How does AS Tracking work?

AS Tracking measures pupils' steering cognition. By tracking a child's steering cognition, AS Tracking is able to record the development of a child's social-emotional patterns and risks.

Why was AS Tracking needed?

There are many adolescent mental health self-report tools. These tools were developed for clinical use, to diagnose conditions in children already identified with concerns.

Whilst these tools have a use with individual children already referred to a clinician, when used to screen healthy adolescents who are required to supply their names, such self–reports have poor accuracy.

The reason for this is that such tools usually need to ask intrusive and even suggestive questions. For example, ‘Other children pick on me or bully me’ or ‘I have many fears, I am easily scared’. In addition, they have questions which are difficult for children to answer honestly and openly. For example, 'I take things that are not mine from home, school or elsewhere' or 'I fight a lot. I can make other people do what I want.'

As a result when used as whole-school screening tools, the data is unreliable and often inaccurate.

AS Tracking overcomes these barriers by a different approach.

AS Tracking replaces direct, intrusive, suggestive questions with an indirect, subtle and neutral exercise. This measures a pupil's steering cognition.

Developed through two doctoral studies, 15,000 pupil trials, over 17 years, AS Tracking measures how a child steers their actions in their imagination. Studies have shown that how a child steers their imagined actions is a strong indicator of associated social-emotional risks. For example, a study of 2,900 secondary pupils in 2015 showed that pupils’ imagined steering biases accurately linked to risks of self-harm, bullying and not coping with pressure in 82% of cases. Further information about our research can be found on our Research page.

As a result, AS Tracking is able to identify pupils’ hidden risks without asking intrusive or suggestive questions. Often these risks may be undetected even by teachers' expert professional judgment, or by parent or pupil feedback.


AS Tracking measures four steering biases, which combine to determine the risks any pupil is facing. Each of the four biases can be identified, and then improved, through targeted activities which teachers can put in place for that pupil at school.

[ STEER spent 15 years identifying these four steering biases. Milly’s risks are determined by the pattern of her biases both in-school and out-of-school. The impact of events in Milly’s life can be determined by fluctuations in her biases, which are an early-indicator of emerging risks. STEER can provide teachers with specific, targeted activities to improve Milly’s bias risks, on the basis of the evidence of what works.]


The results of this approach are 30% better outcomes in reducing the social-emotional risks of a vulnerable pupil compared to the best alternative school pastoral practice.

How can we claim such statistics?

This claim is based on a two year study involving more than 40 UK schools, 1,500 pupils between the ages of 8-18 and in excess of 150 teachers. A single-blind experimental trial was designed. The subject cohort were those pupils who were identified as priority pupils- having two or more polar steering biases in their AS Tracking assessment. The experimental cohort was supported by school pastoral care PLUS AS Tracking action plan guidance. The control cohort was supported by normal school pastoral care. The control/experimental pupils did not know which cohort they were in. The impact of the intervention was measured at the subsequent AS Tracking assessment round 5 months later.

The results showed that 8/10 pupils supported by AS Tracking action plans reduced their polar biases and their composite risk biases, at the next AS Tracking assessment, compared to 5/10 pupils supported by just school pastoral care.

Teachers say that AS Tracking becomes a critical fourth piece of their pastoral care jigsaw.

The technology behind AS Tracking is explained here

Dr Simon Walker co-led the development of AS Tracking, following years of researching steering cognition. He explains the science of steering in this video clip.


To discuss how your school can adopt a STEER service call or email us today

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