Excluded: Kicked out of School
9pm, Tuesday 20th January 2015
Tuesday 20th January 2015, sees the first episode of a new three-part series, Excluded: Kicked Out of School. This observational documentary series gets unique access to The Bridge Academy and tells the inside story of one of UK’s biggest secondary alternative provision (AP) academies.
The Bridge Academy provides full-time education to pupils who’ve been permanently excluded or moved from mainstream education from across West London. Mostly excluded because of behaviour issues such as fighting and verbal abuse, pupils who arrive at The Bridge often struggle with levels of literacy and numeracy. Filmed over the course of an academic year and hinged on the trust built with the children, the series focuses on their perspective and follows some of the most challenging pupils as they are given a chance to get their lives back on track.
At The Bridge pupils still have to take exams and are expected to leave with 5 GCSCs. But it’s not always easy. As the pupils speak candidly about being excluded, the programme shows how disruptive their behaviour can be and learns there is often a reason they don’t engage with learning and that some of the behavioural problems mask deeply traumatic personal experiences.
From the teachers pacing the corridors with walkie-talkies to the Head of School defusing a fight, the series also meets the staff who constantly battle to keep the pupils out of trouble and in the class room. Unlike mainstream school there is never more than six students per lesson and this allows the teachers more time to help them reach their full potential. And with a clear structure in place every single bit of behaviour is recorded and challenged. Whether it’s verbal abuse, physical intimidation or refusal to take part in a class, facing extremely challenging behaviour is all in a day’s work for teachers, mentors and therapists at the Bridge.
Over four and a half thousand kids are permanently excluded from secondary school every year. With up to 90 kids and 30 staff including teachers, mentors and therapists, The Bridge AP Academy is one of the biggest schools of its kind in the country.
Filmed over a year this powerful series follows students at The Bridge as they try to turn their lives around. We see challenging behaviour, yet we also discover the problems – from bereavement to family breakdown – that lie at the root of some of the kids behavioural issues.
Engaging and thought-provoking, the series gives a voice to young people who have been marginalised by exclusion and shows the work being done to help make their futures more hopeful.
Episode One – Tuesday 20th January – 9pm
15 year old Jess was excluded from her previous school for disruptive behaviour, a problem that started following the break-up of her family. Bright and articulate, Jess is capable of getting good GCSEs if she can only get her emotions under control.
13 year old Millie arrived at The Bridge having left two previous schools for verbally abusing teachers. However we soon get to discover another side of her as we learn she has suffered personal tragedy in recent years. Meanwhile 13 year old Brandon has just arrived at The Bridge. Brandon would rather do anything than stay in class and it’s having a serious impact on his learning.
Episode 2 – Tuesday 27th January – 9pm
In the second programme, we follow students who are hoping to return to mainstream school. If reintegration is to happen, it needs to take place before students start their GCSEs, and only then if they can get their behaviour under control. Around 30 students are assessed for a possible return to mainstream school each year, but on average just 7 will do so successfully.
13-year-olds Shannon and Taylor are both new arrivals. Taylor is initially keen to return to mainstream, but soon starts to find the Bridge more appealing. Shannon on the other hand is determined to leave and pursues a place at a sought after secondary school. She is academically able and the school is interested in her, but her challenging behaviour starts to put the place in jeopardy. Meanwhile 14 year old Craig is also hoping to get reintegrated, but can he avoid confrontations and rein in his bad language?
Episode 3 – Tuesday 3rd February – 9pm
Although it has to deal with a wide range of behavioural problems, the Bridge Academy in West London, still expects each student to get a minimum of 5 GCSEs. The stakes could not be higher. As exams approach and tensions mount, the children’s behaviour starts to go downhill.
In the third and last programme we follow 16-year-old Thomas, who hates school and learning. He lives for football, and wants to be a football coach, but will the school be able to keep him in a lesson for more than 5 minutes? Meanwhile for 16-year-old Michael, passing his GCSEs would mean being able to go to college to pursue his love of animals, but will his fear of leaving the school sabotage his future?
OpenLearn has a wealth of information and resources in connection with the series, including an online discussion hub covering topics and questions arising from the series.. For further information go to OpenLearn
This 3-part series was commissioned by the Open Media Unit , and is supported by the Faculty of Education and Language Studies, with particular relevance to BA (Hons) Childhood and Youth (Q23).
- Commissioned by Dr Caroline Ogilvie
- Nominated Academics, FELS , Dr Kieron Sheehy and Sheila Curran
- Media Fellow, FELS, Fernando Rosell-Aguilar
- Broadcast Project Manager, Caroline Green
- Online Project Producer, Sarah Bridgman
Broadcast Project Manager
The Open University