How can we solve the challenge of reducing school exclusions?
It can feel overwhelming to tackle such a big and complex problem. The RSA's Pinball Kids report pointed towards a possible place to start: schools building stronger relationships with students and families.
How can we do this? One of our report’s key recommendations was to invest in multi-agency teams – education, mental health, social work, youth work, and police professionals working together – to act early and support children at risk of exclusion.
We are excited to be exploring this idea with the Greater London Authority (GLA). We’ll be working with the GLA to investigate how schools in London are engaging in early intervention and multi-agency work to become more inclusive and reduce preventable exclusions.
RSA and GLA work on reducing school exclusions
We’ve been investigating how to reduce preventable school exclusions through our Pinball Kids project since 2018. The GLA has also been working with schools, boroughs, and others to find out about the challenges they face in supporting children at risk of exclusion or going missing from school.
The Mayor-commissioned research Boys on Track (2018) looked at ways to improve educational attainment for two of London’s largest underperforming groups: Black Caribbean boys and white boys eligible for free school meals. It also recommended schools build stronger relationships with parents and families of pupils, and support pupils’ emotional wellbeing and mental health through multi-agency work.
The London Assembly report Preventing secondary school exclusions (2019) found that the rise in exclusions in London was due, in part, to the rise in children with complex needs and the need to have better referral processes so that schools can connect pupils to external specialist services. A key consensus has been that the education sector and other agencies want to fully understand evidence-informed practice in London and elsewhere. Our work with the GLA will help London boroughs identify suitable approaches tested elsewhere and adapt them to achieve success in their own, unique contexts. Our aim is to support more places to move forward their inclusion agenda and help make London a more inclusive place to learn.
We want to hear from you
Over the coming weeks, we will gather evidence from professionals involved in this critical work across the country. We are interested in inclusive approaches across the country that are having an impact, and how they can be adapted to succeed in the London context.
We know that there are many examples of excellent early intervention and multi-agency work being led by different local authorities, schools, multi-academy trusts, pupil referral units and alternative education providers, both in London and across the UK. So, we want to hear from you!
We know the ongoing disruption to schooling is likely to worsen existing inequalities and increase some of the risk factors for exclusion. We are interested in how the pandemic response is changing the state of inclusive practice in your local area, and what is being learnt and applied differently right now.
(The project complements the Mayor’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) ongoing work on reducing the number of young people excluded from mainstream education.)
Thank you to all those who contributed to the project.
From this work, we have developed a toolkit is designed for practitioners in schools, trusts, and local authorities. We hope that the case studies of promising inclusive and nurturing practice as well as our suggested process of applying the learnings will enable you to carry forward in your own journey towards greater inclusion and nurture. Download the toolkit
Mehak Tejani Hannah Breeze
This research explores the benefits of youth social action and captures the learning from our primary social action project with schools in the West Midlands.