The BBC has this week reported on the increase in exclusions across the country, based on DfE figures updated in July. In some areas the increase is over 300%, but what is the story behind the figures?
When are exclusions appropriate?
Exclusions should only be used as a last resort, when all strategies have been tried to avoid reaching this point. The predominant reason for exclusions is persistent disruptive behaviour. Often there is a well-documented record within the school showing varying levels of disruptive behaviour over a period of time.
The turbulent period of adolescence, when young people are finding themselves and marking their identity, can quite often lead to inappropriate and unruly behaviour in itself. It becomes a problem when it affects others or the pupil’s welfare itself is at risk.
Identifying Unmet Needs
The rate for permanent exclusions for primary aged children has remained constant. In all ages, it is often the inability to deal with their own frustrations and have the capacity to respond appropriately to situations that can escalate to the unfortunate conclusion. However when schools and academies look behind the behaviour and are able to identify unmet needs and a subsequent match to appropriate resources, it is often rewarded by a noticeable improvement in behaviour and pupils can find themselves back on track to meet their potential.
Unfortunately, resources are often scarce and can be expensive, and despite all best efforts, it is not always possible to maintain a young person in a mainstream provision without very intensive support.
An increase in extreme and often dangerous behaviour from a minority of pupils and apparent lack of respect for both people and property, can leave staff and other pupils vulnerable.
The safety and welfare of other students and the wider community has to be a consideration when governors have the responsibility to decide whether to uphold a headteacher’s decision to permanently exclude a pupil. Part of a governor’s role when reviewing exclusions, is to ensure they have all the facts and evidence before them to make an informed, fair and legal decision.
School Exclusions Best Practice
All schools and academies should have:
- A clear and consistently implemented behaviour policy
- An effective strategies and access to resources to identify the needs of individuals, and match provision to need
- An effective behaviour management system and support plans in place.
Unfortunately, on some occasions an exclusion may be the only option, however this in itself can be the beginning of new and positive path for many students.