Reducing School exclusions - Inclusion Plus Initiative

The Inclusion Plus Evaluation Project, funded by the Robertson Trust, was led by Dr. Mark Murphy, and Professor Chris Chapman. There were three agencies involved (Apex, Skillforce and Includem) in this Public Social Partnership initiative designed to help reduce school exclusions in a set of schools in Dundee. The agencies had different remits. Apex offered a service in the main to S1 and S2 pupils and provides either an alternative to exclusion, flexible learning packages or a combination of both. Their curriculum was mainly bespoke and designed around the child. Skillforce provide a more ‘off the shelf’ service with a similar curriculum across schools, mainly for S3 and S4 pupils. In many cases their curriculum was one of the optional subjects for pupils. Includem provide more of a wraparound service tailored to work with pupils and their families outside school hours in the main.

The aim of the evaluation was to:

  • evidence the impact of the Inclusion Plus project on the levels of school exclusion in Dundee, while assessing the contributions of each organisation to this process
  • evaluate the success of the Public Social Partnership model in terms of improving partnership working at the service and funding levels

Some Findings:

  • Role of the schools: It became evident at an early stage that the role of the school is crucial with the schools having a great deal of influence over how Inclusion Plus operates. Across the four partnership schools there is a strong sense that the pupils on Inclusion Plus are first and foremost pupils of the school.
  • Exclusion rates: Since the inception of Inclusion Plus, there has been a significant drop (36 per cent) in the numbers of pupils who have been excluded.
  • Impact of agencies: There is strong evidence to suggest that each agency (taken separately) is having a positive effect on the school settings. There is no sense currently that school staff have serious concerns about the quality of work being delivered.
  • Impact of agencies: There is strong evidence to suggest that each agency (taken separately) is having a positive effect on the school settings.  There is no sense currently that School Staff have serious concerns about the quality of work being delivered.
  • Impact on behaviour change: The evidence from these interviews strongly suggests that Inclusion Plus, mainly working as separate agencies, are having a positive impact on behaviour change among at risk pupils in all four schools.
  • Inception issues: The introduction of Inclusion Plus to schools in October 2013 presented a set of challenges, with the sense of imposition from outside having an effect in some of the school settings. In particular, the fact there were somewhat similar services already in existence in the schools (aside from Skillforce) meant that questions of ‘fit’ naturally arose.

The final evaluation report of the Inclusion Plus Project was produced August 2015. A second interim report (February 2015) will explored in more detail the progress made regarding the public social partnership (PSP) model. This report includes data from key stakeholders, including funding agencies, Dundee City Council, schools and parents, with the aim of identifying the benefits and challenges of collaborations between the state and the third sector.