How many people are being excluded from school?
In Australia in 2019, more than 113,000 students were removed from government schools, either for a set period or permanently. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students were disproportionately represented in this number. In the US, over two million students are suspended annually and 111,215 are permanently excluded. In England, 42 children a day are being permanently expelled. Only a small percentage of children in this number return to mainstream education.
These statistics represent an enormous amount of missed opportunities, economic loss and perpetuation of disadvantage that might otherwise be avoided.
Why is it important to keep kids in school?
There’s a clear link between excluding young people from school and criminal activity. A report by the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons discovered that 85% of boys in detention had been expelled from school and 41% were 14 or younger when they last attended.
The links between not attending school and crime are complex and include a range of factors. For example, if someone is living in a home with family violence, managing drug or alcohol-addicted parents, being exposed to gang influence, not to mention receiving no academic support at home, they are likely to be in a state of constant stress which may look like anger and frustration at school.
Many of these young people, without a safe place to learn and the positive influence of stable adults such as teachers in their lives, turn to crime out of desperation and hopelessness, peer pressure, boredom or the perceived prestige it brings.
But there are ways to steer young lives in a different direction.
Early intervention is the way to success
One of the most effective ways of tackling this problem is to get involved in the lives of at-risk children earlier, and put supportive measures in place to steer the individual in a new direction before it’s too late. If a school is able to avoid an exclusion, this at least gives the young person a wider view of potential life paths available to them, rather than leaving them feeling their life is set on a course of no options and no opportunities.
The early intervention work involves three key steps:
Young people at risk are identified.
Schools provide information to partners such as the police and support services via the secure channels available on ECINS. The most at-risk young people are prioritised. Support options are discussed between various partners, including youth service providers, schools, housing offices, early intervention staff, school educational inclusion officers, family centres and anyone else who can add value.
By securely sharing data, each team can get involved in the most effective way. For example, the police might be the best people to conduct non-confrontational, solution-seeking meetings in the family home. This approach is often easier to gain parental consent than school meetings because parents are less concerned about involvement from social services or child protection agencies.
We know this approach works because we have supported schools and police across the UK to put these early intervention methods into practice. If you want to find out more about how this solution can work in your area, don’t hesitate to get in touch.