In 2020 we launched our first feature documentary Excluded inspired by direct-action activism on exclusion by a group of affected young people from the summer of 2018. In this documentary we wanted to platform the diverse voices of young people from across the UK with lived and learned experience of exclusion and to create a space for the issues that the people most often left out of the conversation on exclusion wanted to centre. The film ended up only featuring those young people – talking about their experiences and ideas around exclusion.
During the weeks around the launch I heard countless times from social media and in emails we received, that young people who were going through exclusions, or were at PRUs were happy to see such representation, to hear their stories, to basically see people like them talking about this issue. We heard that the film had kickstarted conversations and discussions, and this sounded fascinating to me. I wanted to see if we could replicate this and in 2021 generously supported by the law firm Allen & Overy, we were able to do just that. This film, made with young people working with the organisation Just for Kids Law was inspired by Gogglebox, using the film to act as a conversational starter, inspiration or a prompt to raise issues and discussions. We built a sitting room in a huge room in our London HQ – at Resource for London, with a blow up sofa and a somewhat fidgety blow up cactus, and we started filming our very own Gogglebox – capturing the young people’s observations and reactions to the Excluded documentary along the way.
The young people talked about their own experiences of exclusion and education. They talked about the implications around what causes some of the behaviours that might take students out of the education system. They talked about exploitation as a result of being excluded and the long term damage that can come as a result of ending up on the streets instead of in the classroom. They also talked about the solutions that young people in our documentary came up with and discussed what it’d mean to do things differently for teachers and students.
How these young people saw the exclusion landscape
The reality is that within the education system, there is systemic disproportionality and disparity issues, with greater numbers of children from minority ethnic groups and with SEND affected by exclusion. A piece by McIntyre, Niamh, Parveen, Nazia and Thomas, Tobi “Exclusion rates five times higher for black Caribbean pupils in parts of England” The Guardian into the government’s released statistics in March 2021 had this to say about the breakdown of experiences for pupils from different ethnic backgrounds,
“Exclusion rates for black Caribbean students in English schools are up to six times higher than those of their white peers in some local authorities, Guardian analysis has found, highlighting what experts have called an “incredible injustice” for schoolchildren from minority ethnic backgrounds. […] Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller children were also excluded at much higher rates, with Roma children nine times more likely to be suspended in some areas. And exclusion rates for mixed-race white and black Caribbean students were more than four times higher than their white peers in several local authorities”.
The film, made in collaboration with the teams at Just for Kids Law supporting these young people to take their campaign around exclusion further, opens up the conversation around the lived realities of excluded students and the far reaching impact on their lives and the lives of their families.
Why give a voice to children and young people?
We want to keep on giving voice to people with lived experience. Our mission at EachOther is to increase public knowledge of and support for human rights and our model fuses news, expert knowledge, and storytelling. Often these stories are ones not covered by other media outlets and, in telling them, we are attempting to amplify the voices of individuals and organisations fighting to make a difference. Our manifesto within the 2020 strategy document sets out our aim to “provide an online platform for personal testimony about people’s lived experience which allows us to show, not just tell”. The call to centre the voices of the people most affected by issues rather than talk over them or for them is becoming ever more vital.
To watch what these five young people had to say alongside the clips from Excluded that they were responding to – watch our brand new film (and series format) ‘Conversations around…. Exclusion’ today.
Author: By Sarah Wishart, Creative Director
Credits : This This article has been republished under Creative Commons from EachOther (www.eachother.org.uk), a human rights charity which inspires people to think again about human rights.