Next week is Camden Youth Safety week; a comprehensive programme of events and activities planned across community, council and school venues. The week of activities incudes real talk debates for 15-21 year olds, powerful drama to raise awareness of specific topics and provoke discussion, a coffee morning for parents and the community and weapons awareness information to mention just a few. Just last week, social justice charity Nacro published their report, ‘Lives not knives’ (read the report here) in response to growing concerns about the impact that knife crime continues to have upon local areas and young people. This report gives young people a chance to have their say in the knife crime debate. Giving a voice to young people is something that Camden does well, enabling young people to lead the debate and encouraging collaboration in the production of guidance materials and assertive social media messaging. The Nacro report outlines the growing challenge of knife related crime and lost lives, it recognises that no individual organisation or service has the power to solve this problem alone; it must be a collaborative effort. The report acknowledges that the correlation between school exclusions and crime of any kind is a complex one and calls for a ‘second chance fund’ to provide additional investment on interventions for young people who have been permanently excluded from school. I believe that in Camden we are really facing up to the challenge, not only investing in intervention and prevention, but also really engaging schools; as we know they are an instrumental part in reducing knife crime and its causes.

The youth safety debate is complex, it is not just about the link to exclusion, but also life chances, where young people have the opportunity to achieve at school and break the cycle of poverty and disadvantage. The revised Key Stage 4 national data published on Thursday shows that the disadvantage gap; the difference in performance between poorer pupils and their better-off peers, widened again last year. Furthermore, the average progress score of white pupils slumped last year, while most other ethnicities saw their progress improve. In Camden, at the end of KS4, disadvantage pupils made up 56% of the 2019 cohort, 59% of Camden disadvantaged pupils achieved a standard pass in English and maths (above London and National figures), although the group made significantly lower progress. Locally gaps were narrowed between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils at both EYFS and KS1, and KS2 results where progress scores are significantly positive. Despite the ongoing focus in Camden on white British disadvantage, there remains too much variability when compared to national figures and it remains a significant challenge for us locally. Camden Learning have commissioned an independent evaluation of the white British programme and more recently it has been fascinating liaising with a group of students from Massachusetts, who are working with Gospel Oak on an in depth piece of research on white disadvantage-we hope to capitalise on the learning from both pieces of work.

I look forward to seeing many of you on Tuesday 11th February 2020 at the Camden Learning AGM at Regent High School from 4pm onwards. We are delighted to welcome our guest Kevan Collins, champion of education research and previous CEO at the Education Endowment Foundation.

Finally, as previously mentioned the annual Camden Learning Headteachers Conference will be held in Brighton on 26/27 March 2020 with speakers including Becky Allen and Christine Counsell. Please click here for more details and to book your place.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director, Camden Learning

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