High-profile dip for grubby linen

Haverstock School is typical of many inner-city schools: it is a comprehensive with a high exclusion rate. Two-thirds of the 1,000 pupils are streetwise boys; many have statements for behaviour problems.

Deputy head Phillip Williamson presented a warts-and-all portrait of the Camden school to the conference.

Haverstock is currently taking part in a community safety project with Luton University's centre for the study of crime, neighbourhood and social change.

It is one of the projects in Camden's Pounds 300,000 community safety scheme set up following last year's Audit Commission report.

The newly-established Youth Action Group commissioned the university to carry out the project as it was concerned about the escalation in violence and bullying.

The Luton Project aims to reduce bullying in and around the school through programmes supported by the centre. Students, teachers, social workers, housing officers, police and probation services are all involved.

Students complete a questionnaire about their experiences of violence, harassment, drugs, name-calling, and stealing, both as victims and perpetrators.

"We made the project high-profile in the school - just about everyone is aware of it," said Mr Williamson. Results of initiatives are discussed in assemblies and reports are published in the weekly newspaper.

Already the project is having a positive effect - more students are talking to staff about their problems. Staff have re-written bullying and exclusion policies.

Mr Williamson said: "We see ourselves as a test-bed; but we're risking a lot as we are washing our dirty linen in public."

DS

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