As the new academic year gets underway, we’re reflecting on one of The Guardian’s highlight piece  ‘Hundreds of children thrown out of school in English county lines hotspots’ – an alarming article shining a spotlight on the problem exclusions can cause for young people who are, as a result of being out of school, targeted by gangs.  

School exclusions in the UK put hundreds of vulnerable children at risk of criminal exploitation

Although suspensions and exclusions are permitted as a ‘last resort’ in accordance with schools’ behaviour policies (as outlined in recent updates from the Department for Education), it is deeply concerning that a considerable proportion of excluded students have already been assessed as vulnerable, and therefore likely to be those in need of the most support. Young people with special educational needs are also 5 times more likely to be excluded.  

Indeed, the BBC’s recent ‘file on 4 programme’ revealed that there were more than 1,200 suspensions and exclusions of children assessed by social services to be grooming targets in England’s four largest drug-exporting regions between 2021 and 2023, according to data obtained from 37 councils across London, West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Merseyside. 

It is a well-known fact that any young person can become a target of criminal activity however it is also widely recognised that exclusion all too often results in criminal exploitation due to the loss of structure and “ring of protection” that attending school provides. 

Therefore one clear focus must be on providing the support needed to keep children in education. 

At Gamechanger our aim is to provide schools and local authorities with early intervention programmes and strategies designed to achieve positive behaviour outcomes, support students’ personal development and ultimately keep children in education.  

Our Child Criminal Exploitation ‘Impact’ and ‘Intervention’ programmes provide two different entry points to suit the needs of different groups of students. Both programmes not only raise awareness of CCE and County Lines, but also support positive behaviour change through the participation of Gamechanger Challenges which provide students with the skills needed to develop their confidence, emotional strength, trust, respect and communication.  

CCE Impact and Intervention programmes have been successfully delivered throughout the UK to schools within local authorities including; Doncaster, Rotherham, Barnsley and Harts council as well as alongside West and South Yorkshire Police.  

To find out how your school or local authority area could benefit from our programmes, please get in touch.

Meet Gamechanger’s Partnerships and Business Development Executive, Juliet Chappell.

Juliet is a trained facilitator with over 10 years of experience in Theatre in Education (actor, writer workshop leader and director). She has a BA Hons in Modern History from the University of Oxford and a BA Hons in Acting from the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. She is a qualified TEFL teacher and spent many years working across mainland Europe with a number of English language theatre companies and education providers. Juliet has also worked within the UK as an actor on stage and screen.

Juliet joined Gamechanger at the start of 2024, in a change of role from her career in the NHS. She is looking forward to focusing on business development and partnerships, with the hope of expanding the national provision of Gamechanger’s Impact and Intervention products. She is excited to see the portfolio evolve and is proud to be involved in the company’s mission to reach many vulnerable young people at risk of Child Criminal Exploitation and other major social issues.

Away from work, Juliet enjoys exploring the coast and moorland of her home county of Devon. Aside from hiking and sea swimming, she is interested in travelling, languages, theatre, current affairs and food (cooking and eating!)

Meet Gamechanger’s strategy and financial planning expert Richard Adam.

Richard’s role is to provide financial oversight and strategic support for Gamechanger. 

Richard is a qualified accountant and experienced Director with a background in manufacturing and digital businesses, including shared immersive spaces for education and simulated training environments. Richard is supporting the team with financial and strategic enterprise planning, providing a robust framework and development pathway underpinning the consistent and highest standards of service delivery and client satisfaction now and in the future.