nurtureuk response to DfE leak on new policy on school exclusions

28 August 2019

Responding to leaked government proposals for England which include plans to back headteachers to use temporary and permanent exclusions to “promote good behaviour”, Chief Executive of nurtureuk Kevin Kibble said:

“If these proposals are genuine we would be deeply concerned. Exclusions do not improve behaviour and take a harsh toll, both on the excluded child’s education and on society. Excluded young people are more likely to go to prison, be unemployed and develop severe mental health issues. Rather than see exclusions as a tool, we need to actively address the underlying causes and work to reduce them.

“Current rates of exclusion are unnecessary and unfair. We know that we can reduce difficult behaviour through understanding the underlying needs that cause behavioural difficulties, and using interventions based on assessment of needs we can be much more effective at reducing exclusions. We also know that exclusions disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged children. In cases where poor behaviour is directly linked to trauma and adverse experiences like separation from family, exposure to family conflict, parental substance abuse exposure and maternal depression, to then exclude a pupil simply confounds the problem and isolates them further.

“Exclusions have been climbing since 2012 and increasingly affect younger children. Currently, almost 6,000 pupils between the ages of five and ten are in pupil referral units or alternative provision in England, a massive increase of 85 per cent since 2011.

“It’s not just us who thinks we need to tackle exclusions: the independent review of school exclusions led by Edward Timpson called for schools to be equipped to address the social and emotional needs underlying difficult behaviour while the House of Commons Education Committee says schools should not rush to exclude and should instead be ‘bastions of inclusion’.

“We cannot repeat the approaches that have failed in the past and have led to appallingly high levels of exclusions. Instead of doubling down on failed approaches, we urge the government to support measures that will ensure every child gets the education they deserve.”