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New unit in Camden for pupils at risk of being kicked out of classroom

04 July, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

James Hadley, headteacher at Haverstock School

A NEW unit for pupils at risk of being kicked out of the classroom is to be set up at a Camden secondary school.

Haverstock School, in Chalk Farm, will take in up to 21 students from Years 7 to 9 throughout the borough with the aim of reintegrating them into mainstream education.

The initiative is being made possible by £45,000 from Camden Council’s youth safety taskforce, set up after the murder of Mohamed Aadam Mohamed in 2017.

As reported by the New Journal earlier this year, the Town Hall has launch­ed an inquiry into a poss­ible link between knife crime and school excl­usion rates, after data showed almost one in 10 of Camden’s secondary pupils were temporarily excluded.

The council says the most recent figures are declining. Haverstock head James Hadley said of the new Camden Reintegration Base (CRIB): “It’s aimed at all students who schools believe may benefit, with a particular focus on those potentially at risk from exclusion.

“Exclusion has had a lot of focus recently in the media. Camden has had a big reduction in exclusions – down 40 per cent this year. It’s about working towards continuing to reduce that figure, as exclusion is always a last resource.”

Haverstock will be working alongside Camden Centre For Learning (CCFL), which runs an integrated special and pupil referral unit, on the launch of CRIB from September. The centre has a similar short-term project to help prevent exclusions.

When Mr Hadley took over leadership at the school two years ago, he helped create a similar project, the pastoral supp­ort base. He says that 90 per cent of its students were able to go back into mainstream education.

Secondary schools will buy places in CRIB for up to eight weeks. Each year group will have class sizes of seven pupils.

“We teach them their national curriculum subjects,” Mr Hadley said. “They have thera­peutic support and spec­ialist team-building act­ivities. Then over that eight-week period they slowly start to reintegrate into their mainstream school.

“It’s value for money for schools. There’s no profit. The experience of it is if you succeed in this you need less intervent­ion, fewer exclusions, less need for potentially pupil referral unit places. Ultimately, the cost to society is lower if students are successful at school and more product­ive. That’s the value in it.”

Existing staff will be trained to teach in the unit, alongside a manager.

Mr Hadley said: “We did a full staff consultation. There were some largely positive responses, some ideas for us to take away, which the person leading on it has built into their thinking.”

He added: “The real benefit here is that these students will get potent­ially the head of maths teaching them maths, because high-quality teaching is a big part of students enjoying school, seeing the value of school and when they go back to mainstream being able to do that successfully.”

It will not be like a pupil referral unit, Mr Hadley said. “Students who go to them have often been permanently excluded so they are at that time in their educational lives not suitable for mainstream.

“The key difference here is that you are trying to reduce the number of students for whom that might be the outcome.” He added: “It isn’t a punishment. It’s a positive intervention. Many of our families have told us how happy they’ve been with it and how thankful they are.”

CCFL director Jeanette Lowe praised partnership working and said: “Hopefully, the overriding impact will be lowering exclus­ions and enabling them to be in schools.”

Another project given a slice of £500,000 council money is Somali Youth Development Resource Centre, which aims to reduce school exclusions for children aged between 9 and 12.

The £40,000 will be targeted at those children who are at risk while preparing to move from primary to secondary school, or who have recently started secondary school.

Ten other projects were also funded. Camden National Education Union secretary Gerald Clarke said: “It’s pleasing to see that Haverstock School has the confidence to be able to run an additional service that will benefit other schools without causing disruption to their own pupils and teachers.

“It’s essential in the current crisis of school funding that we can cleverly use the resources we have. This is a sign that Camden Learning can run services like this without having to pay external providers.”

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