CEN’s advocates provide mediation as a form of early intervention to avoid the costly and destructive path of exclusion from school. Please contact us if you are concerned about the education of a child or young person.
"We had been having some major issues with the school for three years and it came to a head when I was told that they wanted Jay to leave but for reasons we did not know, as far as the school was concerned low level disruption. To me this was not a valid enough reason but also since he was 6 years old I have been telling schools that something was not quite right with him and this fell on deaf ears even in secondary school.
When I asked for help I was told he was just a bad kid and nothing was wrong with him, where does a mother turn for help… I was then told about your services via my sister… from then on in I have never looked back. I was assigned with Eve, a lady at CEN, I can hand on heart tell you, this woman is like an Angel sent to me from above!!! I do not know what I would even do without Eve by my side she is like gold dust!!! She has not only helped my son gain education… but she has helped my family stay together… she has helped us physically and emotionally and I owe so much to this lady. My son is back in education and still we have some hiccups and I know with her by my side I feel confident and secure something I did not feel for months, I lost all of that. I look back now and wonder how far I would of got without her or where we would be now.
With Eve's help its now come to light that in fact my son has formally been diagnosed with ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder. Things that have gone undiagnosed for 6 years. I cannot thank E. enough, she is the most knowledgeable, loveliest kindest hardworking and understanding person I know and I don’t know how I could possibly ever thank her."
By the mother of a 14-year-old boy in her own words (names have been changed).
“My first phone call with Gerry German (founder of Communities Empowerment Network) to discuss my exclusion was the beginning of a very important and special part of my life.
At the age of 14 I was permanently excluded from secondary school for ... violent and aggressive behaviour. I took full responsibility for my part in the incident and expected there would be consequences for my actions, but I was not willing to give up on my mainstream education. I always believed that education was very important and my way out of the unstable life I was living.
After attending many appeals, meetings and with a lot of hard work from CEN I no longer had the label 'permanently excluded'. We won the independent appeal panel. I was finally going to be a normal student again. The sense of victory was short-lived, due to many of my teachers threatening strike action if I was allowed to return to the classroom. So I was to continue to be taught by tutors alone, in a room with no interaction with my peers. During this time CEN were applying to other schools with no success, even though I was no longer permanently excluded the stigma still remained.
CEN came across an opportunity for me to be accepted into a high achieving school in central London, while being filmed for a TV documentary. I took this opportunity and gained a lot from the experience. I am forever grateful to Gerry for opening this door to success for me. I would not have got through it without him. Until this point, I did not know that people could be genuinely kind and open, without wanting something in return. I was greeted with understanding, hopefulness and respect for the first time in my life. From this point on, every meeting was an educational and motivational experience. I was encouraged, advised and believed in unconditionally.
I deeply believe, that without the positive influence and support from Gerry and the service, during such a difficult time in my life. I would not have gained such a sense of justice and be able to overcome difficult and demanding situations in my adult life. There are many life skills and positive character traits I would not have, if it were not for Gerry and CEN.
- Understanding and accepting differences in others
- Self-worth and self-acceptance
- Hard work pays off
- Public speaking
Communities Empowerment Network 'empowered' me to be the best person I could be and to always fight for what i believe in. I carry this with me every day, always striving to be the best I can be.
Gerry's support and guidance started when I was a teenager and continued throughout my adulthood. Any issues at college, any references I needed for a job, writing letters on my behalf, both personal and professional.
My journey so far:
I achieved 5 GCSE'S at 16 and went on to gain a social sciences diploma. When I was 20, I managed to get a job as a crown court clerk and archivist for a large law firm. I stayed in the legal field for a few years and then I was able to get a role as a client participation officer and a support worker. Working with looked after young people and care leavers. I have volunteered abroad and for various organisations and charities, that support vulnerable people In the UK. I associate my need to give back to others, with the fact I wouldn't be who I am I today, if it were not for the kindness and input of organisations such as CEN and people like Gerry German. Today I am qualified to teach English as a foreign language and am planning eventually to teach, in my own school in Africa.
Although my experience of education was not always positive, I will always respect and value the opportunities I have had because of it. Gerry and CEN have been instrumental and a driving force, in every success and accomplishment, I have achieved in my life. The special type of work CEN do for and with vulnerable young people, is invaluable and provides a consistent source of support and guidance, which a lot of the service users do not have. I continue to support CEN, in every aspect of the work they do, because I am living proof that their method, approach and what they believe in, 'works'. I know they will continue to enrich and guide young people and their parents, through challenging situations and touch others’ lives, as they did mine.”
“I have been Head for ten years and I am a government appointed National Leader of Education. I also lead on the behaviour strand for the National College of School Leadership in London.
Our school serves North Brixton and has a distinctive intake:
- 70% claim free school meals against 12% nationally
- 10% have a statement of special needs v 2% nationally
- Half start with a reading age of under 9.5
Many of our students come from broken homes that struggle to support and parent their children. As a result a number are extreme risk of entering the criminal justice system of failing to complete their secondary education and of failing to establish a self-identity that will support them in becoming good citizens.
We have worked with CEN over the last 10 years to develop a rigorous model to prevent permanent exclusion. It has now fallen from six per year to none in the last two years and much of this is due to our partnership with CEN. In the last two years we have embedded an approach to integration with CEN that has managed to support a group of high risk students in school. This is due to the work of CEN with the students, families and staff.
The support CEN has given to parents through the Parent Forums has meant that parents have found it easier to engage with the school and so support their children’s inclusion and education.
As the CEN project is embedded in the school we feel ideally positioned to develop the work with mainstream and local minority community organisations that work with students in the school such as with Young People Matter, YOS and Safer School Partnership. This will result in support for “at risk pupils” in our deprived area being more holistic which will benefit the students.”