Knife crime and exclusions: Nurture must be part of the solution

7th March 2019

Today, police chiefs and the Mayor of London have written to Theresa May to highlight the link between exclusions and rising knife crime and call for more interventions to reduce exclusions. 

They point out that in two of the country's knife crime hot spots, London and the West Midlands, permanent exclusions rose by 62% and 40% respectively since 2013-14.

Nurtureuk knows that early interventions, such as nurture groups and whole-school approaches to emotional and mental health, are key to preventing the exclusions which police say lead to serious criminal acts further down the line.

Ofsted has previously found that nurture groups were highly effective in preventing exclusion by improving behaviour. A study of 30 nurture groups in Northern Ireland by Queen's University Belfast found that 77.7% of children who entered nurture groups as part of the trial were exhibiting difficult behaviour -  this reduced to just 20.6% at post-intervention test. 

We know from our work with schools that nurture interventions reduce exclusions. Landsdowne primary School in Kent have told us that

“Overall, since the first year the Nurture group began we have reduced exclusions in our school by 84%....Our significant reduction in exclusions has been down to the impact Nurture provision has had in our school, and a large part of this impact has also been down to developing a whole staff understanding of SEMH needs, attachment and the 6 Nurture Principles and establishing these as a whole school ethos.”

And Marsh Green Primary in Wigan have said that:

“We have run a Nurture Group for a number of years and this ethos has been extended across the whole school. In Summer 2017 we achieved the Nurturing Schools Award as a result of a thorough audit of our provision across school…We have seen a huge reduction in exclusions at our school, with just 1 day in the past academic year, compared with 4 days the previous year (2016-17), and 12.5 prior to that (2015-16).”

We know that children need nurture, not exclusions from school and call for all schools to be given the resources and support they need to #AspireNotToExclude.

Kevin Kibble, CEO of nurtureuk responded to todays reports by saying: “If we want to reduce exclusions and stop the issues that cause difficult behaviour to escalate, the key is to intervene and support children as early as possible.”

“This is why we're pushing for more resources for whole-school nurture approaches, assessment of need using the Boxall Profile, and access to nurture groups for those in the most need, in both primary and secondary schools, to help fulfil pupils emotional needs, improve academic attainment and reduce exclusions.”