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Circle of ‘endless detentions’ can end, says Oasis Trust

21 July 2023

Charity to open education new centres to support traumatised children

Kingsmead School

Kingsmead School, on the Wirral

Kingsmead School, on the Wirral

THE national charity Oasis is to take over disused school sites in south London and Merseyside to create centres for children who need specialist support to stay in education.

Along with the new centres, the second of which was announced this week, the charity is also opening a secure school for young offenders, Oasis Restore.

On Monday, the founder of the charity, Steve Chalke, a Baptist minister, announced that Kingsmead School, Hoylake, on the Wirral, was forming a partnership with Oasis. The school was founded in 1904 by the son of a Baptist minister, but closed in 2020.

Oasis TrustThe founder of Oasis, Steve Chalke

On Monday of last week, Oasis launched a similar project in Tulse Hill, south-east London, where the charity would take over the site of St Martin-in-the-Fields High School for Girls when it closes next summer.

The vision for the new “therapeutic centres”, Mr Chalke said, was to help “children who have fallen out of mainstream education”, and to provide support services for other educational institutions to help them to keep pupils in school.

Research showed that children who fell out of mainstream education suffered from significantly reduced life opportunities, Mr Chalke said. “It’s our responsibility as a nation as a society to keep kids in mainstream education — not just by insisting they’re there, and putting them on endless detention, but helping them and supporting them.

“What’s needed, therefore, is a more therapeutic approach to education, which understands the child’s trauma, poverty, violence, neglect, abuse; and, rather than reading their anti-social behaviour as rejection, read their anti-social behaviour as the rejection they struggled with and suffered.”

The centres will seek to create partnerships with local organisations and services to provide support in schools, with the possibility of “intensive intervention” for children who needed to take time out of mainstream education.

The “preventative” part played by the centres would be complemented by the “restorative” functions of Oasis Restore, which is set to open in Rochester next March.

Oasis has been commissioned by the Ministry of Justice to develop an alternative model to young-offender institutions. The aim is to create a “therapeutic environment in a secure setting”.

The timeline for the opening of the centres in Merseyside and south London is still to be set, but Mr Chalke said on Monday that he hoped that some of their functions, such as providing support for local schools, would begin next year.

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