West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit
Our school system is failing its most vulnerable students. Across the country, school exclusions have almost doubled in the last seven years – and these figures do not impact all students equally.
Those being permanently excluded are rarely students from stable homes, where families are more likely to be able to invest in their wider emotional and personal development. Rather, they are likely to be living in chaotic or abusive home environments, grappling with mental health problems or special educational needs, and living in areas where the pull of quick money from crime appear more viable and appealing than investing in education for a future working life.
Revealing Reality was commissioned by West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit (WMVRU) to explore the driving factors for disruption in school, and investigate how children could be better supported to stay on the road to a positive future. To get to the heart of this, we needed to understand the wider context of children’s lives, their experiences of school, friendships, home lives and the challenges they faced.
We conducted school visits and interviews with children and teachers. Key findings include:
- Children need a whole range of skills and influences to broaden their worldview if they are going to perform well and secure good futures
- Those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds were not gaining these skills and influences in their home lives – and schools were not filling this gap
- In particular, disadvantaged students lacked the motivation and ability required to behave well
- Whilst some specific behavioural interventions aim to help children develop the motivation or ability required to behave well, this was not prioritised consistently in the wider learning environment in schools
- Schools needed to ensure that behaviour was good enough to support learning, but did not necessarily have the resources to address the root causes of disruptive behaviour
- This is an issue that requires joined-up working across the system – starting with policy change
- This could include developing a standardised measure for monitoring skills in motivation and regulating behaviour