Education research breaking new ground

Monday 26th June 2023 by James Ward
Final Report for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Violence Reduction Unit

Education research breaking new ground

The West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) is paving the way for new approaches that keep young people in education and away from harm.

We were commissioned to undertake research around school absence, exclusion, special education needs (SEN) and/or neurodiversity. Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways.

The full report has now been published, which identifies three key recommendations:

  • System stewardship 
  • Mentoring and/or peer mentoring 
  • Early intervention support

It builds upon previous local studies, which suggest high levels of school exclusion for those with neurodiverse conditions or SEN are likely to be risk factors in violence.

Director of the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit, Chief Superintendent Jackie Marsh, said the findings will help inform policies and procedures for local schools:

“We continue to seek new ways to meaningfully support change that doesn’t duplicate what is already out there. 

“While we can see that rates of exclusion, suspension and absence are associated with current systems, structures and cultures, there remain many opportunities to shape the future of our young people. 

“We will be reviewing the recommendations to understand what more can be done in partnership, especially to support those who are neurodiverse or have additional needs.”

Dr. James Ward is the Assistant Director of our Newcastle team and was involved in the project. Of the project James said:

“Our research shows the range and breadth of work currently being undertaken across West Yorkshire to better support neurodiverse young people. Despite this, we know that outcomes and experiences for those young people can be improved.

“The neurodiverse young people we spoke to reported often feeling misunderstood, isolated and being within services which were not able to meet their future aspirations.

“Given the work already being undertaken, there is reason to be optimistic that this will change for young people in West Yorkshire. However, these barriers are also the result of systemic issues which require action nationally, ensuring equality of opportunity through adequate resources.”