YOUTH charity Impetus and The Henry Smith Charity are launching a new fund to tackle the rising number of school exclusions and improve outcomes for young people in alternative provision (AP) in England.
There has been a 40% rise in the number of pupils permanently excluded from school since 2013, with almost 50,000 pupils attending AP settings and Pupil Referral Units (PRUS) at the start of 2020.
Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are disproportionately represented in this number, with 45% eligible for Pupil Premium funding. Excluded children are also more likely to have special educational needs (SEN), have contact with social services or experience mental health issues. They are a vulnerable group who need tailored support to overcome challenges and thrive.
Educational attainment is far lower for pupils in AP settings compared to pupils in the State sector as a whole – just 4.5% of these students achieve English and maths 9-4 passes at GCSE, compared to 65% in mainstream schools. The long-term effect is that pupils in alternative provision are over-represented in NEET outcomes and within the criminal justice system.
Over the course of five years, the Engage Fund will provide £3 million of funding and support to five innovative organisations pioneering high-quality interventions to help more young people who are struggling to engage in mainstream education by helping them develop essential life skills, reintegrate into school when appropriate and achieve the qualifications they need.
These organisations are The Difference, Think for the Future, Olive Academies Multi-Academy Trust, MCR Pathways and Transforming Lives for Good.
Eleanor Harrison, CEO of Impetus, said:
“Education isn’t just about academic learning, it’s about wider social and emotional support that helps young people to develop confidence and essential skills that will serve them in adult life. This fund is an opportunity to rethink how we can tailor support to children who are excluded from school, many of whom are extremely vulnerable.
“Only by investing in building the evidence of what interventions really make an impact can we create a system that works for young people, helping them to realise their potential and identify their path to success.
“The Henry Smith Charity has an exceptional track record of backing organisations to bring lasting change to people’s lives, and we are excited to collaborate with them on this necessary work.”
Nick Acland, Director at The Henry Smith Charity, said:
“We are delighted and excited to be working with Impetus on the Engage Fund. We identified young people at risk of exclusion or in alternative provision as an area of particular need and one where we felt we could have a really positive impact by making a strategic grant.
“Working with Impetus will maximise the effectiveness of the grant by supporting the development of some of the leading organisations in this field in order to bring about lasting positive change.”