Story: Ian Clifford & Camille Daughma
Support for young people and parents has been top of the agenda this month following the sad death of Jonathan Matondo. Exclusion has been raised as an issue, as young people out of school are more vulnerable.
Recent figures show a large number of students are receiving fixed-term exclusions in Burngreave. Caribbean boys remain the group excluded the most. Most children are left with nothing to do and many parents don’t know their rights and tend to just accept that the school knows what’s best. Many parents don’t know they have 15 days to appeal an exclusion. Some excluded pupils attend one of the Council’s two inclusion centres and the Council supports voluntary sector inclusion centres like Burngreave’s Cellar Space. But Catch the Drift – a unit that catered for excluded black and ethnic minority children – closed in March when funding ended.
Between Sept 2005 – July 2006, the Cellar Space catered to the needs of 38 individuals. Manager Di Lee told the Messenger:
“Inclusion units are better able to respond to complex issues young pupils face. We work with the story behind the behaviour and provide a safe place to help them work and express themselves. We listen to the young person and build them up. Inclusion units work. They encourage and refer pupils to further educational pursuits and into work. There’s no stigma of exclusion on their record. Working with small numbers makes a massive difference. We have very little trouble and positive outcomes overall.”
Some schools also run inclusion centres within the school, such as Parkwood’s Turnstile Centre. Headteacher Chris Mallaband said,
“Our Turnstile Centre has been open for a year. Children work in smaller groups for 2½ hours a day, where they can talk about their problems. We also involve parents and have had a positive evaluation from the Local Authority. It costs us £45,000 a year.”
However, with insufficient places at centres for those permanently excluded, Chris Mallaband said one pupil at Parkwood had to wait eight months before the Council found them a place in an inclusion unit.
The Messenger asked Education chief, Paul Makin about the high rate of exclusion in Burngreave at a recent Area Panel meeting chaired by Jackie Drayton. He acknowledged that “exclusions of BME children are too high,” but claimed they had reduced drastically recently. When Youth Council rep Zanumb asked what the Council would do to challenge schools that discriminated and excluded more black pupils, he was evasive, even when pressed to answer by Councillor Drayton.
When pressed on the lack of provision for excluded young people, he had few answers, saying that he accepted Inclusion Centres were not the answer for everyone and that young people needed to do other activities like art or mechanics. However, he did indicate there will be more resources for family support workers.