Our founder and CEO recently wrote an article for a magazine about diverting pupils from the school to prison pipeline. Below is an adapted version of the article. However, if you would rather read the full article directly from the Educate magazine the article can also be accessed here on page 50.

We must divert pupils from the pipeline

‘EMPOWERING young people to be the best version of themselves’ is the motto of not- for-profit Say It With Your Chest (SIWYC). SIWYC focuses on reducing exclusions, as there are many negative outcomes that an individual may experience as a result of being excluded. For example, excluded students are four times more likely as other children to be jailed as adults (University of Edinburgh,2016), and being excluded is a strong indicator for those who are at risk of involvement in youth violence (Youth Safety Taskforce, 2018). The negative impact that exclusions can have on a student’s future prospects is known as the school-to-prison pipeline ( see below).

Thoughts, feelings and behaviour

The most common reason for exclusions and moving further along the school-to-prison pipeline is persistent disruptive behaviour. In some extreme cases excluding a student is the only option, but there needs to be an increased awareness of different ways to understand disruptive behaviour. For example, when a student is persistently disruptive, instead of focusing only on the behaviour we need to look at what thoughts and feelings may have impacted their behaviour.

Who we support

The Black Lives Matter movement highlights how important it is for schools to work collaboratively with organisations such as SIWYC, as we support Black Caribbean students, who are four times more likely to be excluded than their peers. SIWYC also works with students with special educational needs as they are seven times more likely to be excluded, and students eligible for free school meals, who are four times more likely to be excluded.

SIWYC works with secondary schools to help improve the behaviour of at-risk students through our 12-week Switch Ambassador Programme. Switch workshops cover topics such as the power of choice and growth
mindset versus fixed mindset, and group discussions, team activities, videos and written activities are facilitated. One-to-one mentoring sessions consist of activities which are relevant to the students’ lives, age, experience and interests.

Why we are different

The Switch Ambassador Programme is different from other programmes because:

  • It was created in collaboration with young people for the benefit of young people.
  • It is tailored to meet the needs of the students and school.
  • It works with students who are at the highest risk of exclusion.
  • All of the profits from the programme are reinvested back into the business to expand our impact.

Next steps

Following the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown and school closures, it is likely that more students will behave in a way that could lead to an exclusion, so now is the time to look at how to better support them. If, like us, you believe in empowering young people, then we are keen to work in partnership with you and your school.

Categories: Blog