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School exclusions could be linked to a rise in knife crime

School exclusions could be linked to a rise in knife crime

Published by Mix96 News at 5:51am 14th March 2019.

Exclusions at Buckinghamshire's schools have increased by 76% since 2013, as police chiefs have warned this could be contributing to a surge in knife crime.

Police commissioners from seven forces across England and Wales have written to Prime Minister Theresa May, calling for urgent action to fix the "broken" school system.

The letter argues that exclusions put vulnerable children at risk of being sucked into violent crime.

In 2016-17, secondary schools in Buckinghamshire handed out 2,380 exclusions to children, the latest Department for Education data shows.

This was a rate of six exclusions for every 100 pupils, and a 76% increase from 2013-14 when there were just 1,353 exclusions.

The police chiefs' letter reads:

"Clearly, the way the education system deals with excluded young people is broken," 

"It cannot be right that so many of those who have committed offences have been excluded from school or were outside of mainstream education."

Gareth Morgan, who is Head of Early Help at Buckinghamshire County Council explained how they try an ease student back into the education system after they have been excluded.

He said:

"Within the county we have an education entitlement team, who work closely with schools to both monitor and reinstate pupils who have been excluded.

"Certainly in 2017/18, we got the rate down against that high point, so we're beginning to see the impact of our efforts in reducing those levels."

A rise in knife crime

Knife

Knife offences investigated by Thames Valley Police, the police force which covers the local authority, have almost doubled in the last four years, the latest ONS figures show.

The force recorded 1,306 offences involving a knife or a sharp weapon between April 2017 and March 2018.

In 2013-14, there were 718 cases.

Across England and Wales, the number of fatal stabbings hit the highest level since comparable records began, more than 70 years ago.

The letter to Mrs May also calls for off-rolling – where pupils are removed from the school roll without a formal exclusion – to be outlawed, and for greater funding for schools to improve early intervention for children at risk of exclusion.

The National Association of Headteachers said it backed the majority of the police chiefs' points, stating:

"School budgets are at breaking point and many interventions for our most vulnerable young people are being cut."

However, it added that violent crime was the result of "deep-seated problems" – including poverty, inequality, and cuts to police and council budgets – and could not be blamed on exclusions alone.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, said:

"A school’s first duty is the safety of its students, and so school leaders need to retain the autonomy to exclude a violent pupil in order to keep everyone else safe."

Ofsted said it had seen no convincing evidence that exclusions lead to knife crime or gang violence.

In Buckinghamshire, there were 92 permanent and 2,288 temporary, or fixed-term, exclusions in 2016-17.

Across the country, exclusions have increased by 44% since 2013, climbing from 214,580 to 309,275.

The sharpest increase was in permanent exclusions, which have increased by 60% to 6,385.

A Department for Education spokesman said permanent exclusions should only ever be a last resort. He said:

“It is still vital that young people who are excluded from school are able to engage with high-quality teaching and education.

"That’s why we have launched a £4 million fund which is delivering projects to improve outcomes for children in alternative provision, including pupil referral units."

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