CHIPS, the international Christian peacemaking charity, today announced the launch of a new programme to help reduce the number of school exclusions in Lambeth.
The announcement follows the publication of a report this summer by the Home Affairs Committee, which calls for urgent action to tackle school exclusions as part of the fight against serious youth violence. The number school exclusions has risen nationally since 2012, and the latest data shows a further year-on-year increase in permanent and fixed period exclusions for the 2017/18 school year.
At the heart of the programme, two CHIPS youth workers will facilitate weekly small group mentoring sessions with students at participating secondary schools. The sessions are designed to channel the students’ energy into identifying the shared causes, interests and issues they care about most and will empower them to take action and drive change in their communities. To complement the mentoring work, CHIPS will also organise regular visits outside the neighbourhood, helping students to build new relationships and explore different ways of thinking and problem-solving.
Success will be measured by the number of students successfully completing the programme and avoiding exclusion. Other expected outcomes include improvement in school behaviour and attendance, improved communication skills and greater engagement in the community.
The Walcot Foundation, an independent grant-making organisation and Lambeth’s principal independent funder, has contributed to the funding of the programme over three years and Citizens UK has provided training in community organising to the CHIPS team.
Paul Maxwell-Rose, Co-director of Programmes at CHIPS, said:
“The number of young people being excluded from secondary schools in London has risen in recent years, to reach over 40,000 permanent and fixed-term exclusions in the last year for which statistics are available. At the same time, the link between school exclusions and youth violence has become increasingly clear. We need to take action now and society needs to hear these young people’s voices.
“We are very grateful to the Walcot Foundation for recognising the importance of this issue in Lambeth, and for their generous contribution towards the funding the programme for the next three years. Our experience shows that, by drawing out the anger of young people and focusing their energy on shared issues where they can make change happen, we can not only reduce the risk of exclusion but help them to become positive changemakers in their communities.”