Violence Reduction Unit shines the spotlight on education inclusion in West Yorkshire

“No young person should be allowed to fall off the radar.”

This the call of a ground-breaking report by Crest Advisory, exploring the links between education inclusion and serious violence across the county.

Commissioned by the West Yorkshire Violence Unit (VRU), it examines the patterns and trends in school exclusions and the relationship with serious violence.

It also assesses the impact on vulnerable learners and the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It offers several recommendations designed to improve the experiences of young people and tackle the root causes of violent crime.

Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin said:

“A child excluded from school becomes vulnerable to grooming and exposure to violent crime.

“Promoting inclusivity is one of my key manifesto pledges and this report is an important milestone in our efforts to achieve this, specifically around the root causes of serious violent crime.

“Intervention is key and the role that education plays in young people’s lives is absolutely critical and cannot be underestimated. We all have a responsibility to work together in ensuring their futures.

“I oversee the Violence Reduction Unit and I’m pleased to see it has already taken steps to build upon the recommendations of this report, such as appointing an education lead and establishing a group of education partners seeking new solutions.”

Sarah Whitehead is the newly appointed Education Lead for the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit and added:

“The Violence Reduction Unit is in a unique position to be able to bring together key organisations, placing education inclusion on the agenda at a very strategic level.

“Having previously worked in policing and education locally, I will be using all my experience and knowledge to forge stronger relationships, which ensure we are all operating towards a mutual goal.

“This will include everything from co-ordinating discussions with schools to speaking directly with a family member or pupil when risks of exclusion emerge.

“I will also be liaising closely with colleagues and partners in response to the additional recommendations contained in the Crest report.”

Jessica Lumley, Senior Analyst of Crest Advisory said:

“We know that education, attainment, and schools themselves play an essential role in the journeys of young people, particularly those already vulnerable to violence and exploitation.

“The Education Inclusion report provides robust evidence on the questions of where, how, and why this relationship between violence and exclusion occurs in West Yorkshire, and what can be done to foster meaningful inclusion for all students.

"Whilst we identified areas of serious concern in West Yorkshire, including potential areas in which vulnerable learners could be falling through the cracks, we also identified numerous examples of innovative approaches and good practice.

“By commissioning this report, the West Yorkshire VRU have signalled not only a dedication to an evidence-led approach to bolstering education inclusion locally, but also their commitment to cascading the learning from pockets of excellence countywide."