Skip to main content

Back in the fold

An active-learning programme is helping pupils at risk of exclusion, writes Phil Revell.

It's the kind of project that attracts all the wrong headlines. On a school day, while other Year 11s are at their desks, a small group of teenagers are loading snowboards into a minibus. They are part of an active-learning programme run by Surrey's community and placement support team (CAPS). It also organises go-karting, bowling, indoor rock climbing and other activities for children at risk.

The activities are allied to a reintegration programme that aims to tempt young people back into school or college. The carrot is a pound;30-a-week allowance, plus that Wednesday morning session on the ski-slope. Surrey has 12 places available for children with long-term problems at home or at school.

But is it really worth the not inconsiderable expense? Certainly, Laura, a pupil taking part in the scheme, thinks so.

"I was having problems at home, losing my temper a lot and I wasn't going to school," she says. "I should be in Year 11, but it's difficult. Towards the end of Year 10, I wasn't going to school at all. I just didn't like it. I stopped going.

"Instead, I'd go around with some mates. I was drinking a lot. And that would cause problems at home. The smallest thing would blow up. I saw the state I was getting into and I knew how it was affecting my family, but I didn't think too much about it."

At that stage, social services referred Laura to the CAPS team who sent a caseworker along to see her. "I came downstairs and they said 'Tracey is here to talk to you.' I didn't know she was coming. My parents didn't tell me - 'cos I wouldn't have been there if they had.

"It was a shock, I didn't want to talk to anyone, but it did help.

"I started going once a week to the centre. That helped me a lot. It took my mind off things. I never have been able to look too far into the future, but I was scared that I was going to go downhill and end up like my mum - that was what scared me most.

"I get paid pound;30 a week to stay on the course. I've started working on my GCSEs and I've been going on the motor bikes course. I enjoy doing that, and the leader is sorting things out for me so that I can learn about the mechanics of the bikes. I'd like work experience - perhaps with children.

"I'm doing different things now - I've stopped drinking and I'm with a different group of people.

"Things are better at home as well. I haven't had a big argument for ages.

"Before I was sitting around all day getting drunk - and that's what I'd still be doing if it wasn't for the CAPS team."

Laura is not her real name.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you