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Gang expert’s warning of school exclusions danger

Disproportionate number of black pupils are kept away from class

13 November, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Town Hall chiefs are investigating exclusions from Islington schools

THE head of youth support and gangs teams at the council has called for a change in the disproportionate number of young black people being excluded from school.

Curtis Ashton, who leads the Targeted Youth Support, Youth Offending and Integrated Gangs Services, was speaking at the council’s children’s committee last week as a new investigation into exclusions began.

The Disproportionality Project report, drawn up by criminologists from City University, has looked at the work of Islington gang teams as well as those in neighbouring Haringey.

The council said the project was launched due to the disproportionate numbers of young black people facing the criminal justice system in Islington, despite committing similar offences as their white counterparts. The council set up a scrutiny panel in 2018 to probe the high number of school exclusions in the borough.

The report, published last month, recommended the council addresses the disproportionate amount of black Caribbean children being excluded from school.

Mr Ashton said: “We know that certain groups of people are more likely to be excluded from our schools and as a national issue, and they’ve obviously made some quite significant inroads and progress in relation to black Caribbean boys, but they are still more likely to be excluded. That needs to change.”

Department for Education figures show there were 1,420 fixed-term exclusions in Islington secondary schools in 2017 and 2018 – the highest in London.

Over the same period, there were 26 perma­nent exclusions from the borough’s primary and secondary schools. Around 70 per cent of the excluded students were from a “minority ethnic” background, while over half were on free school meals.

Mr Ashton said the council are also looking into the high number of young people from the Andover estate in Holloway who are being drawn into crime.

Statistics show people in Islington are almost four times more likely to be stopped and searched if they are black. Police borough commander, Raj Kohli, has acknowledged the disproportionate number of BAME people who are searched.

Mr Curtis told the meeting: “We’re very fortunate to have a police commander who is very aware of what it’s like to be a person of colour to experience discrimination, because he’s Asian. He’s very determined to tackle those issues.

“People who are black and from minority ethnic backgrounds are more likely to experience certain difficulties: poor housing, racism and discrimination.”


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