Fears criminal gangs are exploiting expelled students
A summit on “the serious problem” of school exclusions is set to take place, amid fears that those kicked out are at risk of being exploited by criminal gangs.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said that the issue needed to be addressed, after figures revealed that there were more than 700 permanent exclusions across the region in the space of a single year.
Mr Jamieson, a former teacher, has repeatedly raised concerns that expelled students are in danger of being drawn into violent crime and said this week that the problem was increasingly being raised at a national level.
He told a Police and Crime Panel meeting in Solihull this week that there was a pattern of criminals “gathering these children up from the streets”.
A summit could take place in March or April time, inviting councils, Ofsted and the health service to take part in discussions on how to try and improve the situation.
“We won’t actually decrease crime by doing this, but we’ll decrease the recruiting army that the criminals have of young people that they are using,” said Mr Jamieson.
In 2016/17 there were 727 permanent exclusions recorded across the West Midlands. This compared with 440 in 2009/10.
And there are also mounting concerns about so-called “off-rolling” – a practice which involves schools removing challenging students to improve their position in the league tables.
Mr Jamieson said that the issues needed to be examined.
“The big question is ‘why are some schools excluding far more than others?’
“I’ve come across a school in Birmingham in a very challenging area … and they have excluded nobody in six years. Can we learn from that?”
Speaking after the meeting, the PCC said: “Ensuring that young people stay in education is vital to keeping them away from gangs.
“I understand that excluding some students from mainstream school in some cases is the only option however, it is important that the education system offers them a strong alternative education.
“Excluding children and not providing alternative provisions is creating the problem, it leaves them vulnerable to gangs and often become involved in county lines [a type of drug trafficking].
“This is not a problem that we are going to arrest our way out of, the government needs to take action now to ensure that those are excluded are given an alternative so they do not become victims of gangs.”
At national level, former Education Minister Ed Timpson has been tasked with carrying out a review into exclusions. His report is expected to be published in the coming weeks.
Read more: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/fears-criminal-gangs-exploiting-expelled-15791410