by Lisa Swift
Exclusions from school are still higher for children in Burngreave than across Sheffield. It’s recognised that parents’ involvement is needed to help improve the situation, but many remain isolated and unsupported.
New Deal and Burngreave Community Action Forum (BCAF) are organising a meeting for local parents and residents to create a group to support families struggling with exclusions and work with the schools to reduce exclusions in the area.
Jon Cowley of New Deal told the Messenger: “Many parents faced with their children’s behavioural issues at school find the system intimidating and don’t know what their entitlements are.”
Patrick Edwards, development worker for BCAF and local parent, told the Messenger:
“When there’s an issue at school you don’t know where to turn. Excluded kids go through the system and just meet other bad kids, and it gets worse. Alternative provision didn’t help my son. We need positive role models for our children in schools and a curriculum that is relevant to children of different backgrounds.”
Exclusions of secondary pupils in Burngreave have reduced over the last three years, but figures remain high for Yemeni, Caribbean and dual-heritage young people, with boys three times as likely as girls to be excluded.
Local resident, S Powell, said: “The escalating, ongoing numbers of black boys excluded from mainstream schools and the lack of alternative educational provision to address the problem, remain a great concern. This problem will not go away until schools and other service providers recognise that provision such as Second Chance, Catch The Drift and the wide-ranging experience of black workers are invaluable resources needed to tackle this problematic area of work.”
Although permanent exclusions are rare, one to three-day exclusions are relatively frequent. Some children receive a string of fixed-term exclusions and then there is a struggle to keep those children in school.
Chris Mallaband, Headteacher at Parkwood School, said: “More often than not, children get a fixed-term exclusion for swearing aggressively at someone or for violent behaviour. Parkwood now has an internal inclusion unit for up to five children at a time, where we have a learning mentor and a teaching assistant. Part of what children learn here is how to manage their anger.
“It’s important that parents attend their child’s ‘return to school meeting’ following an exclusion, and some schools will not let a child return if parents do not attend. Parents are important if problems are to get resolved.”
Local parent and former teacher Dee Ramsey told the Messenger:
“Previous initiatives over many years have not worked. Schools should have funding withheld for excluded students.An independent school should be developed to cater for the educational needs of these children.The LEA needs to build back the trust of parents and demonstrate that something positive will be done.” Burngreave Children and Young People’s Resident Forum will be meeting on 7th November, at 12–14 Burngreave Road. If you are a parent or local resident with experience of exclusion or concerns about the issue, this meeting will give you the opportunity to discuss concerns and seek solutions.
Contact Patrick Edwards on 0114 272 8008, or Jon Cowley on 0114 279 6932.