While a minority of young, multiracial working-class Londoners caught up in serious youth violence are schooled in the Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) and Alternative Provision (AP) that forms part of the ‘PRU-to-prison pipeline’; little is known about how the education system for the excluded came about.
How Black Working-Class Youth are Criminalised and Excluded in the English School System reveals that over the past forty years, exclusion from mainstream school has coincided with systematic ‘educational enclosure’. In this period, the state has responded to inner-city youth rebellions and political agitation for racial and social justice by depriving working-class communities of education. Consequently, a two-tier education system, with ‘deserving’ and aspirational students in the academy sector and ‘undeserving’ and alienated kids in the PRU and AP sectors has emerged. The ‘undeserving’, steadily cast adrift in education, are not mere anomalies in a system that encourages learning and race-class inclusivity; they represent a system that has been purpose built to segregate. As the report explains, London is leading this educational trend. The proportion of pupils in PRUs and AP in the capital is almost double the national rate, with young boys of black Caribbean heritage overrepresented in the sector.
This report aims to support important on-going campaigns for education justice, by excavating the specific political conditions that have ushered in regressive reforms. This history has been forgotten and urgently needs retelling at a time when think-tanks and government are in the business of expanding the PRU sector by rebranding it as AP and privatising it through academisation.