The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) is investing £4.7 million in a series of programmes to tackle school exclusions and support vulnerable young Londoners through education.
The VRU – set up by the Mayor last year and the first of its kind in England – will fund programmes in schools that will work to reduce exclusion rates and provide support for young people making the transition from primary school to secondary school.
Investment will be targeted to ensure support for pupils with the most complex needs. The VRU will also fund additional provision for the crucial after-school period, following research that showed violent incidents involving young people are more likely to happen at the end of the school day.
The Mayor’s support for schools comes at a time when reports indicate the Government is renewing its emphasis on exclusions, with support and backing for headteachers to remove pupils with challenging behaviour.
The VRU Director, Lib Peck, visited Glasgow in June this year to hear about the city’s approach to reduce violence and the steps taken by Maureen McKenna, Director of Education at Glasgow City Council, to cut exclusion rates. Maureen’s drive to change the culture and practice in schools, the introduction of programmes that kept children engaged in school and strong support for headteachers saw exclusions reduce by 81 per cent and violence fall by 48 per cent over the past decade.
Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, Lib Peck, said: “Schools play a vital role as a safe and nurturing environment for young Londoners, giving them every opportunity to succeed. But sadly we know that children excluded from school are at greater risk of committing serious violence or at risk of being exploited. In order to reduce the risk of young people becoming involved in violence, we have to give schools the support they need to keep all pupils fully engaged in their education.”