A new report by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner School Exclusions Inquiry titled: “They never give up on you” reveals that GRT and Traveller children are four times more likely to be permanently excluded than the school population as a whole.
The report looked at a sample of 2000 children in 2010 and although exclusions have fallen in recent years, stark gaps remain. It was also found that permanent exclusion has a negative effect on an excludee’s life for a far longer than the period immediately after exclusion.
In 2009-10 exclusion statistics showed the highest rate was among GRT children with the rate of exclusion higher for these groups.
Some groups of children are far more likely to be excluded than others: boys rather more than girls, children from some ethnic backgrounds, children of the poor and children with some types of special needs.
There have been two main changes to policy relating to school exclusions further to the Education Act 2011:
• The act removes the right of a parent to appeal to an independent panel against the permanent exclusion of their child from school. Independent Review Panels have replaced the Independent Appeal Panels and the outcome no longer requires a school to reinstate a pupil they judge was unfairly excluded.
• the Government has announced its intention to change the accountability framework for permanently excluded children so that the excluding school retains responsibility for the child’s academic attainment and attendance, and is required to commission and pay for alternative provision.
The issue of “unofficial” or “informal” exclusions attracts considerable policy and media attention.
These are situations when a school requires a young person to leave the premises but does not record it as a formal exclusion. This might be for a fixed, usually short, period of time, or in the worst cases indefinitely. It also refers to instances when a young person or their family is “persuaded” to move school, a move usually sold to the family and the child as an alternative to a permanent exclusion going on the child’s record.
As reported in the Spring issue of Travellers’ Times, parents can make recourse to the school if they feel their child/children has been treated unfairly, leading to exclusion or otherwise, via OFSTED on 0300 1234666 or at www.ofsted.gov.uk/schools
Full report available at http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/publications/content_561