Excluded children can still have hope: here’s the proof | Gaby Hinsliff
As arguments rage over knife crime, I’ve seen a school where troubled young people are turning their life around
This summer, when she leaves school, Leah wants to become an art therapist. Her classmate Holly wants to do something with psychology, and for Sam it’s an apprenticeship with the police. None of this would be unusual except that Sam (not his real name), a chatty and engaging 16-year-old, used to spend his days at school in isolation and his evenings “getting into trouble” around town with his mates. He thought he had irrevocably screwed up his life, and was resigned to having blown it. Fortunately for Sam, he found somewhere prepared to give him not just a second chance but a third and a fourth and a fifth. Whatever happened yesterday, tomorrow is always a new day.
All three teenagers attend Restormel academy, in the Cornish town of St Austell. It’s one of a group of alternative provision schools belonging to the Wave multi-academy trust, catering for children permanently excluded from mainstream secondary schools plus others who haven’t been expelled but may be on the verge, who come in for specialist interventions. The young people I meet are friendly, articulate and sick of a national debate raging over their heads that draws sometimes crude connections between exclusion, knife crime and feral behaviour.Continue reading...