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Peer Action Collective teams to build a more inclusive education system to help prevent violence

We’re the Peer Action Collective (PAC), a movement of young people across England and Wales committed to preventing youth violence. One of our areas of focus will be the education system, which plays a vital role in helping young people stay safe. Through our work, we want to help the education system prevent more young people becoming involved in violence.  

Over the next 18 months, PAC teams from the North East, London and Lancashire will listen to more than 2,000 young people and hear in their own words how they can get the most out of education, improve attendance, prevent exclusions, and access help that can protect them from involvement in violence. But we won’t stop there; young people will turn their research into social action to make change from what they find. 

The challenge

We know that school absence and exclusion can increase the risk of a young person being involved in violence and crime. We also know that schools and Alternative Provision can be key in helping young people at risk of becoming involved in violence. 

What’s needed is more young voices explaining how education can keep them safe. People who have the experience and know first had what works and what doesn’t. This is why our work is driven by young people affected by violence and passionate about using their experiences to drive real-world change.  

The Peer Researchers in Haringey have the following to say about their projects:

“We hope to prevent more referral unit exclusions, as we believe it leads to more poor behaviour.” 

“We are ready and we are equipped to stop the knife crime issue in London, we want to help and support the youth in education as much as we can.”

What are PAC teams doing in response?

Here is what the three education-focussed PAC teams will be researching for their first project, kicking off this March:

 In Haringey…

Supported by the McPin Foundation and the Peace Alliance, the team are looking at exclusions head-on. They will cover a range of topics, from what young people do when they are excluded to the types of support young people need throughout the exclusion process. They’ll find out more about whether exclusions can be prevented, and if not, how the negative impacts of exclusion can be reduced.  

 In Gateshead and Middlesbrough…

Supported by Youth Focus North East and NE Youth, the team are looking at systems of support in school, as well as what young people think about topics that can be hard to talk about, such as mental health and healthy relationships. The team want to explore how talking about the issues and getting more support in schools can play a role in preventing violence.  

In Lancashire…

Supported by Lancashire BME Network, the team are focused on discipline within education settings. Learning how young people, especially those who are most often in trouble, can have more of a say on how discipline works and how to effectively address the root causes driving behaviour.  

To give you a flavour of our ambition, our team in Lancashire reflect on what they want to achieve and why through their work on education:  

“By doing research and social action we want to achieve the following:  

  1. Clearer communication between young people in schools, so we can put more effective systems in place to understand how and why young people resort to violence or act out.  
  1. Giving ownership to young people, so they can help to develop realistic outcomes and understanding of the punishment system in schools.  
  1. A more transparent approach within schools which can be viewed and understood by all. Young people will become a part of the conversation by giving their opinions on school matters.  

How can you support our work?

Our goal is to inform more effective support for young people affected by violence in the education system. If you think you could help, please get in touch with us at  

Support could look like: 

We are ambitious in the change we want to see from our research and would really appreciate your support in helping us to make a difference. As one member of our team in the North East shares: 

“We’re a bunch of individuals who have faced different experiences and challenges, but we show that people from different backgrounds are able to come together to work as a team for positive change and we want you to be part of our work.”

Funded by the Youth Endowment Fund, the #iwill Fund (a joint investment between The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport) and the Co-op, the PAC is here to support young people to take the lead.  

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