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6,550 children too many excluded

School exclusion should be banned says Demos.

The system of excluding badly behaved pupils from school should be abolished because it punishes vulnerable children, according to Demos. 

Government statistics published today show that 6,550 students in primary, secondary and special education schools were permanently excluded in 2008/09, a figure that the independent think tank classes as “6,550 too many”.

The current exclusion rules, which hand difficult pupils over to local authorities, are used too often and usually affect children with special educational needs who need extra support, according to a report published by Demos earlier this year.  The Ex Curricula report called for difficult children to remain the responsibility of the head teacher and be dealt with through special support within the school.

Sonia Sodha, an education expert at Demos said:
“Exclusion wastes money because it doesn’t solve the problem – it just moves it out of sight and out of mind. Kids that get excluded are condemned to fail.

“Today’s news that 6,550 children were excluded is 6,550 too many. Resorting to exclusion punishes children for the failure of the school system.  Head teachers should intervene before it gets to the point of no return rather than wash their hands of troubled children.

“Once a child has been permanently excluded, they drop off the system: they are no longer the responsibility of their school and no one is accountable for their success or failure.”

Ex Curricula showed exclusion also does not solve behavioural problems and is linked to very poor results. Only 1 per cent of excluded children get the equivalent of 5 A*-C grades at GCSE, compared to 70 per cent of children still in school.

Over 75 per cent of children who are excluded have special educational needs (SEN) and exclusion rates for children in the middle band of special educational needs are 17 times higher for children without SEN. 27 per cent of children with autism have been excluded from school.

New Government figures show that children with SEN are over 8 times more likely to be excluded than those without SEN.

Government figures show only 1 per cent of 15 year olds in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) achieved 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C or equivalent; 11.3 per cent achieved 5 or more grades A*-G; and 82.1 per cent achieved 1 or more qualifications.

By comparison, 70 per cent of pupils achieved 5 A*-C grades at GCSE or equivalent in the general school population.

The report, which was supported by the Private Equity Foundation, blamed this disparity on the poor quality of teaching once a child is permanently excluded – despite the fact that over three times as much is spent per child on PRUs than in mainstream schools.

Around £15,000 is spent on a full time PRU placement compared to £4,000 for a place in mainstream secondary schools.

In one survey of schools in England, 80 per cent said once they have identified emotional and behavioural issues in a child it takes them over a month to access any extra support, and 4 in 10 schools said it takes them more than three months – during which time the problem can become much worse.

The report argued for exclusion to be scrapped and replaced with a system of early intervention.

Recommendations from Ex Curricula
* The current system of permanent exclusion – in which a child leaves the school rolls once they are excluded and the local authority becomes responsible for them – should be abolished.

* Schools should be given more resources to buy in out-of-school specialist provision for children with behavioural problems at an early stage – or as a way of improving or managing poor behaviour.

* The child should remain the responsibility of the school. Head teachers will still be able to buy in alternative provision for children behaving poorly – but they will remain accountable for their results.

* There should be more and better training for teachers on behavioural management in initial teacher training and in on-the-job training.

* Local authorities need to play a stronger role in driving up the quality of alternative provision for children who struggle in the classroom. Ofsted should inspect alternative provisions provided by charities and private sector providers on the same basis that it does PRUs.

Schools could, for example, spend extra resources to deal with the early signs of behavioural issues, on the following: 

Nurture groups. Nurture groups are small groups of up to 12 children, usually in primary schools, that focus on providing a small-group environment in which children with poor behavioural skills are encouraged to develop more positive behaviour and learn within a more structured and supportive environment than the mainstream classroom.

Learning mentors. Learning mentors work in one-to-one or small group settings with children in schools that lack behavioural and/or study skills.

School counselling services. For example, the charity Place2be runs counselling services in schools to improve children’s behaviour and emotional wellbeing. They run universal drop in services with a qualified counsellor for all children in the schools they work in, but also undertake more intensive one-to-one therapy work with children with significant behavioural and emotional difficulties. Around two-thirds of the children they work with see improved behavioural outcomes.


Demos:  Ex Curricula


Notes to editors:

Data from the Department for Education released today, Thursday 29 July 2010 shows:

* There was an estimated 6,550 permanent exclusions from primary, secondary and all special schools in 2008/09. 

In 2008/09 there were 307,840 fixed period exclusions from state funded secondary schools, 39,510 fixed period exclusions from primary schools and 15,930 fixed period exclusions from special schools. 

The average length of a fixed period exclusion in state funded secondary schools was 2.6 days, for primary schools the average length of a fixed period exclusion was 2.2 days. 

The permanent exclusion rate for boys was approximately 3.5 times higher than that for girls. The fixed period exclusion rate for boys was almost 3 times higher than that for girls.

Pupils with SEN (both with and without statements) are over 8 times more likely to be permanently excluded than those pupils with no SEN. 

Children who are eligible for free school meals are around 3 times more likely to receive either a permanent or fixed period exclusion than children who are not eligible for free school meals. 

Beatrice Karol Burks, Press and Communications Officer
020 7367 6325
079 2947 4938




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