School exclusions are a growing problem for children and young people across the country. In the last full year prior to the pandemic (2018/19), there were almost 7,900 permanent exclusions and almost 440,000 fixed period exclusions.
To challenge unfairness in the school exclusions process, the children’s legal charity Just for Kids Law is partnering with law firms across the country to offer free legal advice and representation for children and young people who are faced with fixed term and permanent exclusions.
Just for Kids Law has partnered with the law firm Allen & Overy to provide a School Exclusion Clinic for children permanently excluded from schools in London. The London School Exclusion Clinic starts on May 9th, 2022. For free legal advice and representation for a child permanently excluded from school, please make a referral here.
Unfortunately, we know from our work at Just for Kids Law that certain groups of children and young people are disproportionately excluded from school, including Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children; children of black ethnicity; children with special educational needs or disabilities; children eligible for Free School Meals; and looked after children. Children excluded are also more vulnerable to child criminal exploitation and statistics show a clear connection between exclusion from school and entry into the youth justice system – more than 8 out of 10 children in custody have been excluded. One of our school exclusion campaigners, Stefan, talks about his experience of the school to prison pipeline, in this interview with The Economist.
Some of our other School Exclusion campaigners were involved in training Allen & Overy volunteers -they shared their incredible journeys of overcoming a school exclusion and the difference support can make. Johnathan is now on the path to becoming a solicitor and Rose is about to start a degree to become a journalist. You can read a recent blog by Rose about her experience of school exclusion as a young person in the care system here.
As well as providing direct support to children and young people, Just for Kids Law also provides free resources for practitioners working with children and their families to challenge fixed term and permanent school exclusions through our School Exclusions Hub.