CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Panel is to investigate school exclusions

'Is Camden doing everything to ensure that permanent exclusions are always as a last resort?'

15 November, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

Labour councillor Samata Khatoon

A SPECIAL panel investigating links between youth crime and high rate of school exclusions has been launched at the Town Hall.

Families, experts and senior politicians are looking at whether excluded children have been let down by the education system. The probe comes after a spate of youth violence which has seen seven ­murder investigations launched in Camden since the start of this year.

Labour councillor Samata Khatoon, who chairs the exclusions panel, said at the children’s scrutiny committee on Tuesday: “The first stage of the exclusion panel will understand what the data tells us. We have sent a set of data questions to officers. Since the children’s scrutiny meeting in September we have noticed some gaps and there are some issues.”

Cllr Khatoon, who proposed setting up the special panel in March, added: “The second phase will look at answering the questions: Is Camden doing everything it can to ensure that permanent exclusions are always at the last resort? Is Camden doing everything it can to support and understand and respond to the needs of children and families at risk of exclusion? Can Camden make sure that exclusion from school does not equal exclusion from education? We will look at Alternative Provision (AP) in Camden and we want to hear from children, families and the service provider.”

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan visited Camden last month and said reducing the number of exclusions could prevent teenagers falling into a downward spiral that ends in being involved in knife crime. The children’s scrutiny committee found that out of 700 exclusions in Camden last year, 9 per cent of all excluded pupils are black Caribbean while 9.7 per cent are from a Somali background.

There were 25 permanent exclusions in 2017-18 out of which 19 children were recorded as having committed a criminal offence during that period. In 2018-19 there were 27 permanent exclusions at secondary schools while at primary there was one permanent exclusion, down from five the year before.

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