Violence reduction units

School exclusions and youth violence

Today, a growing number of children and young people are affected by social, emotional and behavioural issues which hinder their learning and limit their life chances.

This pattern is reflected in the rising number of school exclusions: there was a 60% rise in the number of pupils permanently excluded from schools in England over a five-year period. Recent data shows that on average, 42 pupils were permanently excluded on every school day – a total of 410,000 exclusions. (Pinball Kids: Preventing school exclusions, March 2020)

The problem of school exclusions is particularly severe among disadvantaged pupils.


Children and young people with Special Education Needs and/ or Disabilities (SEND) are around six times more likely to be permanently excluded from school.


Pupils eligible for free school meals were four times more likely to be permanently excluded from school.


Pupils of Black Caribbean heritage are excluded at a rate of nearly three times their White British peers.


Looked-after children are five times more likely to be temporarily excluded than other pupils. 

How we are addressing the problem

Nurtureuk works with violence reduction units (VRUs) across the country to help reduce school exclusions and youth violence, through a combination of consultancy, training and intervention. 

Underpinned by the Six Principles of Nurture and the Graduated Approach, our VRU programmes are designed to help schools identify and respond to their pupils’ social, emotional and developmental needs, as well as any other disadvantages they are facing, which may be connected to disruptive or violent behaviour. Each school is trained by a nurtureuk consultant, who works closely with the staff to understand their specific context. As well as using the Boxall Profile® Online to assess pupils’ needs, we also offer training on managing change, parents families and carers, enabling student voice, and teaching and learning.

Adults talking to young people

We have previously worked with violence reduction units in London and Kent and Medway to help schools to reduce exclusions and youth violence by implementing a whole-school approach to nurture, in addition to strengthening relationships with parents and carers, and improving the self-esteem of children and young people. Some of the schools we worked with already had some knowledge of our tools and approach; others had no previous experience of the nurturing approach, but brought huge enthusiasm and a clear wish to do something different for their young people. 

We are currently commissioned by London Violence Reduction Unit to deliver the Inclusive and Nurturing Schools Programme which aims to keep children safe, supported, and thriving in school, tackle exclusions, and ensure children and young people have healthy relationship behaviours and attitudes.