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Issue:- 2 December 2010

School exclusions are a ‘costly and ineffective dead-end’

EXCLUDING young people from school is expensive and does little to improve behaviour according to children’s charity Barnardo’s, which runs 43 services for children and young people in the North West.

Despite the encouraging decline in the use of permanent exclusion over recent years, fixed-term exclusions are still over-used. Secondary schools in England issued 307, 840 fixed-term exclusions in 2008/09; equating to more than 800,000 days of missed education.

If the intention is to send a short sharp message to young people that their behaviour is not acceptable then the message is clearly not being received; 66% of secondary school fixed period exclusions were given to pupils who had already received one earlier in the year, showing that such exclusions are very frequently ineffective.

The single biggest reason for all exclusions is ‘persistent disruptive behaviour'. However, Barnardo’s research argues that early intervention or effective alternative provision can help stop behaviour escalating to this crisis point and therefore limit the need to exclude.

In a new report, Not present and not correct: Understanding and preventing school exclusions, Barnardo’s focuses on solutions to bad behaviour which not only cost less than exclusion, but result in better outcomes for the young people concerned.

Martin Narey, Barnardo’s chief executive explains:- “Barnardo’s acknowledges that when behaviour is dangerous, removal from school may be the only option. But disruptive behaviour is frequently a sign of problems outside school and those young people most at risk of exclusion need more adult supervision and support, not less. It is madness for us to take poorly behaved, often troubled children and remove them from the one arena in which they are required to behave reasonably. Ejecting them from school and leaving them to their own devices in chaotic homes and risky neighbourhoods is not going to improve anything, it’s just a costly and ineffective dead-end. This research shows how we can work constructively with young people and their families to address the underlying causes of bad behaviour whilst helping them continue learning.”

Permanently excluding a young person can cost up to 3 times as much as investing in counselling or family support to change bad behaviour before it reaches crisis point, or providing them with a short-term alternative that restores their confidence in learning.

While some politicians have advocated exclusion as a way of ‘nipping problems in the bud’, young people and professionals interviewed as part of Barnardo’s research confirmed that school exclusions are failing to remedy bad behaviour.

Martin Narey continues:- “Exclusion can and should be a last resort. Barnardo’s projects show how intervening to fix problem behaviour before it’s too late and learning to manage anger and emotions can help restore young people to a point where they can return to a mainstream classroom. Fixing discipline problems before they become entrenched is in everyone’s interest. The right intervention at the right time can transform the life chances of vulnerable young people at risk of exclusion.”

Recommendations from Barnardo’s report include:-

► increasing the supply, range and quality of early intervention and alternative provision

► introducing a trigger to prompt a needs assessment when fixed-term exclusions are being used repeatedly

► clamping down on illegal unofficial exclusions and ensuring all absence from school is properly documented

► ensuring that adequate alternative provision is in place before implementing managed moves or zero-exclusion policies.

Stroke groups given a boost through charity ball

PREMIER Merseyside hotel the Ramada Plaza in Southport has pledged its support to a charity masquerade ball in aid of 2 stroke groups.  The Stroke Association and the Merseyside Young Stroke Information ‘n’ Support Group are set to benefit from the event on Friday, 3 December at the Southport Theatre which adjoins the hotel on The Promenade.

General Manager Enda Rylands said he was proud to support the ball by publicising it at the four star hotel and offering a discounted nightly rate for those attending the event. He has also provided an auction prize of a night’s dinner, bed and breakfast.  He said:- “We have a firm commitment to local charities and had no hesitation in helping these two worthy causes, both of which rely entirely on donations. Thanks to the ball, people on Merseyside who have suffered strokes can be guided on the path back to health, with support also given to their families. We hope as many people as possible will attend the ball and raise lots of money for these vital groups.”

The charity ball includes a three-course meal, an auction and entertainment from singer Cari Winter, comedian Lester Crabtree and magician Matt Colman.  Tickets cost £35 and are available via:-


MOTORISTS who risk driving when twice over the legal drink drive limit increase their chances of being involved in a fatal crash by more than 30 times, is the stark warning from Merseyside Police this Christmas.  With the festive season approaching the temptation to get behind the wheel after having a drink may be a risk some drivers think is worth taking.

Merseyside Police is launching its Christmas drink drive campaign on Wednesday, 1 December 2010, and is urging people having a drink this season to not risk their lives and other people's by driving.  Instead, the message is to leave their car keys at home, designate a non-drinking driver or take public transport.

As well as targeting motorists who drink or take drugs and then drive at night, officers will be carrying out enforcement in the mornings to target those still over the legal drink drive limit or not fit to drive through taking illegal substances.

Nationally, drink-related road deaths are increasing with 130 more fatalities across the UK in 2004 than in 1998.  Although Merseyside is below the national average, up to 70 people a year are killed or seriously injured on the roads as a direct result of drink driving, which is a particular problem among the under 25s.

The number of people driving under the influence of illegal or prescribed drugs is also increasing. These drugs can affect driving ability and judgement in the same way as alcohol and these people will also be targeted during the Force's Christmas campaign.

Chief Inspector John Hogan, head of Merseyside Police Roads Policing Department, said:- "We want to challenge the perception among some people who think it is acceptable to drive after having a drink or taking drugs.  Alcohol affects everybody in a different way and can remain in your system for longer than you think. Even the smallest amount of alcohol will affect your competence behind the wheel, your ability to judge speed and distance and will slow down your reactions.  The number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads of Merseyside comes at a huge cost in terms of human tragedy and financial impact.   One death on the roads of Merseyside is one too many and the Force will be working hard to reduce the number of collisions on the road this Christmas."

In an effort to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on the roads of Merseyside, the Force is working with the other emergency services to highlight the dangers of drink and drug driving. To launch the campaign the emergency services will be staging a recreation of a fatal crash at Toxteth Community Fire Station on Wednesday, 1 December 2010, at 12pm.

Officers are also holding 5 spotlight days in December targeting motorists flouting the driving laws and educating those caught breaking the rules of the road.   During these days, there will be a high visibility of officers on key roads across Merseyside taking action against people driving illegally.

Station Manager Mark Thomas from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service knows only too well the consequences drink driving can bring. He said:- "I have been in the fire service for 18 years and I’ve lost count of the number of collisions that I have attended where alcohol was a factor. Sadly, experiences in my professional role became a personal reality for me and my family last July. My colleagues from Heswall and Upton attended a fatal accident in Neston where four young people had died at a horrific scene - my 19-year-old niece was among them. She had been out that evening and got into a car with her friends; the driver had been drinking and it was later established that he was three-and-a-half times over the legal limit.   Nothing will bring Michaela or her friends back. All we can hope is that others will learn from this tragic, needless and so easily avoidable carnage.   I urge anyone thinking of drinking before driving to think again – and to passengers considering entering a car being driven by a drunk driver to think again. I would not want anyone to experience this tragedy and the sadness that our family has had to come to terms with.”

Derek Cartwright, Director of Paramedic Emergency Service for the North West Ambulance Service, said:- "The number of people affected by these types of incidents goes far beyond the number of deaths when consideration is given to the impact these type of road incidents have on families, friends and sometimes even emergency services staff.   On many occasions the scene of devastation can be upsetting even for the most experienced medical professional, especially when in many circumstances the accident could have easily been avoided."

Chief Inspector Hogan added:- "The size and scale of our campaign shows our determination to tackle drink and drug driving and reduce road deaths.  Even a momentary lapse in concentration can result in catastrophic consequences for not just themselves but for their passengers as well as other innocent victims who could be left maimed or at worse killed.   Our main objective is to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on Merseyside’s roads by making them a safer place for all road users - drink and drug driving is a significant contributory factor in these accidents. We will continue to prosecute drivers prepared to ruin lives by drink or drug driving and they will face severe penalties ranging from hefty fines to lengthy prison sentences. Our officers, as well as other emergency services, are at the very heart of road death investigations from the crash site and liaison with the victim’s family through to the prosecution in the courts.  We see the carnage and devastation that is caused by drink and drug driving and with the onset of the festive season motorists, cyclists and pedestrians need to take extra care while out on the roads of Merseyside so Christmas is remembered for all the right reasons and not because of a tragedy."

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