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An article by David Lester, National Learning Services Director
We hear that fatal stabbings are at their highest level since records began in 1946. The age bracket for the most common suspects is 16 – 24. These are mainly young men. The question is why? In a minority of cases these young men will have attended school without a problem, got in with the wrong crowd and found themselves in criminal circles.
I’m open to the views of others but what I am seeing from my interactions with local authorities around the country is that there is an increase in not just in permanent exclusions but fixed term exclusions. How many students go straight to a permanent exclusion? Not the majority.
Going back to the original question of what impact can education have. There will always be an instance where, based on the behaviour and conduct of a young person, a fixed-term exclusion is the most appropriate punishment. In other cases I have to ask is it? Schools are sending young people home as a punishment, giving them access to Playstation, Xbox the TV. Affording them the opportunity to wander the streets and making them available to criminal gangs. At home there is no school control, at school you at least know where they are, that they are safe and not susceptible to provocation and influence.
If you see an 11 – 16 year old on the streets between the hours of 9am and 3pm what do you think. Have they had a dentist appointment, a doctor’s appointment or are they being punished as a result of an action that has given their school no choice but to fixed term exclude them. In this case are we actually putting them more at risk by not keeping them onsite at school.
My conversation with schools and local authorities is one of “there is a problem, but what’s the answer” My suggestion is this. Let’s find a way of keeping these young people onsite. Support them in their social and wellbeing and identify the reasons why they do what they do. Punish them by keeping them in school and not give them a way out, but give them an education and keep them safe. An education that is structured, engaging, appropriate and available at short notice.
I’ve been spouting on about this for the last couple of months and then out the blue the Times published an article that states “Ministers have accepted that expelling children makes them easy prey for gangs”
As educationalists what are we going to do to break this cycle? I know what Nisai can do to support, but which schools and local authorities are going to be bold enough to say enough is enough and keep some of these vulnerable yet over confident and in some cases badly behaved young people safe and in education.