Further validation of FBB from the Children’s Commissioner

FBB recently has been described as a ‘fantastic programme’ in another area of developing Government policy.

Following a visit to see how FBB works – see News Article: ‘Children’s Commissioner visits FBB programme at Bacon’s College’ – Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner, produced a long report about the Criminal Justice System, and how young people are sometimes badly affected by it.

Ms Longfield’s office is responsible for promoting and protecting the rights of children as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as other human rights legislation, such as the Human Rights Act 1998.

In the report, which contains 28 pages of details, analysis and recommendations, Ms Longfield uses FBB as an example of a positive case study.

The FBB school programme works with many children at risk of falling out of mainstream education. It is a long-term intervention (minimum of 2 years) that works in partnership with schools to help children, often with behavioural difficulties, who are struggling to engage with learning. Many of the children have difficulties with: social and emotional skills, being able to interact positively with others and. may have underdeveloped social and self awareness.

FBB practitioners work with groups on a weekly basis trying to build up children's soft skills, helping them to empathise with and understand others, supporting a shift in their attitudes to school.

Alongside therapeutic interventions and half=termly reward visits, FBB use an hour-long session on the football pitch and an hour in the classroom. The programme is built around an activity that children enjoy - football - and FBB use this as a tool to help children better understand their own behaviour and developed the skills they need to succeed.

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner

BBC Radio 4 picked up on the report in the ‘Today Programme’ on 22nd December 2020. The Commissioner, in the context of a discussion about the Serious Case Review into the stabbing to death of a young male called Tashaun Aird, was asked what schools can do to keep disruptive young people in school. 

Ms Longfield replied: 'Schools who are doing well demonstrate inclusive practice .... I visited a fantastic programme around football in London a few days ago. They were working with a group of Year 7's with lots of different aspects of difficult behaviour. The children were transformed in 6 to 8 weeks into focused learners. They wanted to succeed because they had been involved. They had been required to show that focus.'

This was another reference to FBB’s work. The Commissioner had clearly been very impressed during her visit to Bacon’s College. Well done to all of you who helped make Ms Longfield’s visit such a positive one!

For anybody wanting to read the report in full please go to https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/report/injustice-or-in-justice/             

For those who prefer to read a shorter version a brief summary of the report follows below.

‘Injustice or In Justice - Children and the justice system - December 2020’

Summary of some of the key findings:

  • Many children have been let down by the systems that should be keeping them safe from harm. 
  • Over half (56%) of children sentenced by the Police are currently or have previously been a ‘Child in Need’ (assessed as needing additional support from the state).  7 in 10 have identified mental health needs.
  • 85% of boys in young offender institutions have previously been excluded from school. 
  • When compared to their peers, children in residential care are at least 13 times more likely to be criminalised
  • Criminalisation appears to be particularly true for Black children, who are over four times more likely to be arrested than White children. Despite accounting for only 18% of the general population, children from BAME backgrounds now make up almost half (49%) of the entire population of youth custody.
  • The link between school exclusions and children ending up in the criminal justice system is clear:
  • In 2017-18, 85% of boys in Young Offenders’ Institutions had been excluded from school before coming into custody.
  • 100,000 children are excluded or off rolled each year, cutting them adrift from supportive structures and increasing the risk of them falling through the gaps of services. 
  • 10% of schools are responsible for 88% of all school exclusions, which suggests that schools serving similar populations are taking very different approaches to exclusions.

    One of the report’s main conclusions:

  • The Government’s proposals for reform of the alternative provision sector in education must place a greater focus on avoiding exclusions, improve the quality of alternative provision and increase accountability on providers for the destinations of children excluded from mainstream settings in order to prevent school exclusion acting as a trigger for involvement in criminal behaviour.

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