Just for Kids campaign for reform and stand up for the rights of excluded children
Quote: "Every child has a right to an education which allows them to pursue their dreams and fulfil their potential. In recent years, though, there has been a rise in the number of children being permanently excluded from school. These children often end up struggling to access the education they need to progress in their lives, and many end up stuck in Pupil Referral Units. These lack the educational standards of mainstream schools, and children there often fall prey to criminal exploitation and get funnelled into a life of crime.
In 2012 the statutory guidance on school exclusions was amended to remove the right of independent panels to reinstate a child in education - even if the panel finds the exclusion to be unlawful, unreasonable or unfair. Since this change there has been a rise in the number of exclusions, which has been linked to increases in violent crime involving young people. In May 2019, the government published a long-awaited review of school exclusions by the former children's minister Edward Timpson, which found that exclusions disproportionately affect children from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, and those with special educational needs and disabilities.
As well as providing support and representation to children in the exclusion process, we engage with policymakers to push for changes in the law to ensure that schools are held to account and reinstate children in education when an exclusion is found to be unfair. Our campaigning work includes chairing a sub-group of the Challenging School Exclusions Working Party convened by Justice looking at reform to the Independent Review Panel process. We are also working to improve capacity among lawyers and other professionals assisting children and their families with challenges to unfair exclusions through our School Exclusions Hub.
We (Just for Kids) have also recently embarked on a participation project working with young people with experience of school exclusions to empower them to campaign for change."
New legal clinics to help families challenge unfair school exclusions
Award-winning children’s charity Just for Kids Law has teamed up with leading law firm Fieldfisher to offer free legal assistance to families challenging unfair school exclusions in Birmingham and Manchester. The new legal clinics represent the first time the London-based charity has expanded its unique child-centred legal services for children excluded from school beyond the capital.
- Just for Kids Law is a UK charity that works with and for children and young people to hold those with power to account and fight for wider reform by providing legal representation and advice, direct advocacy and support, and campaigning to ensure children and young people in the UK have their legal rights and entitlements respected and promoted and their voices heard and valued.
- Fieldfisher is a European law firm with market leading practices in many of the world's most dynamic sectors. Fieldfisher is an exciting, forward-thinking organisation with a particular focus on energy & natural resources, technology, finance & financial services, life sciences and media. The firm’s network has more than 1,550 people working across 25 offices, with UK sites in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Belfast.
- Fieldfisher’s lawyers are passionate about using their expertise and skills to help people in need, improve access to justice, build capacity for civil society organisations and serve the greater interests of the community. Involvement in community projects is open to everyone in the firm, whether providing free legal advice to members of the public and community organisations, mentoring children in local schools, or helping young social enterprises grow.
- Referrals to the legal clinics can be made by filling in the online referral form at www.justforkidslaw.org/refer
- Statistics on exclusions in the West Midlands Conurbation and Greater Manchester are based on data published for the Department for Education: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-exclusions Figures were calculated by adding figures for the 8 local authorities in the West Midlands Conurbation and the 10 local authorities in Greater Manchester respectively.