A summary of the Centre for Social Justice's "No excuses: a review of educational exclusion"
This briefing summarises the key points from the Centre for Social Justice's policy report No excuses: a review of educational exclusion (PDF)
The report is an examination of educational exclusion, including self exclusion through truancy.
It argues that many children are misunderstood and that the underlying causes of their behaviour and their needs are not being recognised or addressed.
The Centre for Social Justice is a think tank founded by Iain Duncan Smith in 2004.
The report emphasises the importance of looking at the underlying causes of children's challenging behaviours. It discusses the implications of using unofficial exclusions instead of supporting children to stay in mainstream education.
- claims that some schools are failing in their child protection and safeguarding obligations by failing to address the underlying causes of disruptive behaviour
- calls for greater regulation around exclusion, stating that many schools use unofficial exclusions to get troublesome pupils 'off their hands'
- discusses the different types of exclusion and alternative education providers
- discusses the human, social and economic costs of exclusion, quoting New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) figures which estimated the total lifetime cost of a permanent exclusion from school to be £63,851 (Brookes, Goodall and Heady, 2007).
Reasons for exclusion and truancy
The report finds that disruptive behaviour, physical assault, verbal abuse and threatening behaviour account for four in ten permanent exclusions and half of all fixed term exclusions (DfE, 2010).
Research suggests that over two-thirds of all those who truanted did so to avoid a particular lesson (O'Keefe, 1999).
The report argues that educational exclusion extends beyond what is happening in schools.
It uses case studies to illustrate how various situations can affect a child's behaviour in school and lead to their being excluded when addressing the underlying issues would have been more beneficial in personal, social and economic terms.
The report highlights underlying causes of challenging behaviour or truancy in schools which include:
- family environment: family breakdown, domestic violence, poor attachment and families where there is substance misuse all have an impact on child behaviour and subsequently their performance/behaviour at school
- local environment: some areas have trouble with gangs, and children do not feel safe at, or on the way to, school. Use of restorative justice and more specialised police officer engagement in schools is recommended
- early intervention: schools should be able to identify and tackle problems at an early stage
- parental engagement: parents share responsibility for their children's education, but a significant minority struggle to engage. Recommends schools work with the community and voluntary sectors to improve parental engagement
- child welfare issues: domestic violence (children often act up in order to be sent home so they can check on their mother), not having a quiet place to study, poverty (children arriving at school hungry or tired) or bereavement. Child maltreatment can often lead to delinquent behaviour.
Children at risk of exclusion
The report finds that:
- statistics suggest a strong correlation between exclusion, poverty and disadvantage. Pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN), some minority ethnic groups (such as Irish Travellers and Black Caribbean) and lower socio-economic groups are disproportionately excluded
- there is a lack of early identification of SEN in a number of schools. Research suggests that between 50-76% of permanently excluded children have literacy and numeracy difficulties, which can lead to challenging behaviour and disengagement (Gross, 2008)
- there is an issue with pupils being wrongly identified as having SEN and whose challenging behaviour could be due to a range of other underlying factors which are not being addressed.
Problems with exclusion procedures
The report argues that:
- some schools unofficially exclude disruptive children in order to meet their targets with regards to the number of permanent exclusions. This may mean referring pupils to alternative providers, such as Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), who may not be best suited to meet their needs or using part-time timetables and dual registration as alternatives to permanent exclusion
- it is very likely that the underlying issues and risk factors for official exclusion also apply for unofficially excluded children. Unofficial exclusions can lead to barriers to learning for children who are already very vulnerable
- failure to comply with established exclusion arrangements means it is much more difficult for local authorities to identify children missing from education and potentially at risk.
Brookes, Martin, Goodall, Emilie and Heady, Lucy (2007) Misspent youth: the costs of truancy and exclusion
. London: New Philanthropy Capital. p.12. [Requires free registration to view report.]
Centre for Social Justice (2011) No excuses: a review of educational exclusion (PDF)
. London: Centre for Social Justice.
Department for Education (DfE) (2010) Permanent and fixed period exclusions from schools in England, 2008/2009 (PDF)
. London: Department for Education.
Gross, Jean (2008) Why we need to target four- to eight-year-olds. In: Jean Gross (ed.) Getting in early: primary schools and early intervention (PDF)
. London: Centre for Social Justice and Smith Institute.
O'Keefe, Dennis (1994) Truancy in English secondary schools: a report prepared for the DFE. London: HM Stationery Office.
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