Rising exclusions and alternative provision

Rising exclusions and alternative provision

A guest article from our expert partners at ACE Education.

The most recent official statistics on exclusions from school show that in the 2015/16 academic year 6,685 pupils were permanently excluded. This is a significant rise (up by 890) for the second year in a row. The full figures include the breakdown by primary/secondary and by maintained school/Academy. Figures on the characteristics of excluded pupils illustrate that boys are 3 times more likely than girls to be excluded and amongst other characteristics, the following groups are also overrepresented in exclusion figures; Pupils in Years 9 or 10, pupils with special educational needs, and pupils registered for free school meals.

Independent Review Panels (IRPs) considered 420 permanent exclusions in 2015/16 and upheld 295 of these. Where the IRP quashed the decision (60 exclusions) only 15 resulted in the pupil being offered reinstatement in school by the governing body. (Permanent and fixed period exclusions from schools and exclusion appeals in England 2015/16)

A recent report from The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) examines the cost of school exclusion, its causes and looks at the role that workforce development can play in addressing the problem. The report found that excluded pupils struggle to access specialist services and that the learning environments they are placed in exacerbate their mental ill health. Pupils are often excluded in key stage 4, and once excluded, sometimes close to exams, the teachers they work with are increasingly likely to be unqualified and temporary. The research identifies that the alternative provision workforce requires the teaching expertise more commonly found in mainstream schools and in order to improve support of mental health, and early intervention, the mainstream workforce would benefit from the expertise more commonly found in alternative provision schools.

The IPPR advocate a new programme called The Difference to develop expertise in the teaching profession, to connect exceptional teachers to schools for excluded children, and to create a community of leaders to drive positive and lasting change through the education system.

The Education Select Committee which currently has an ongoing inquiry into alternative provision recently heard oral evidence from Kiran Gill, the author of the IPPR report and founder of The Difference.  He told MPs “I became very interested in alternative provision and exclusion from school because I had noticed that over recent years, exclusions were rising year on year. I think it is often quite a neglected part of the sector that people imagine is very, very small and affecting a very tiny minority of students. Our research showed that, year on year, we are seeing more and more permanent exclusions, with children leaving mainstream school but not being referred on into a special school and being educated in the alternative provision sector. We are also seeing lots of children being educated in the alternative provision sector not via permanent, official and recorded exclusions but by other means. One of the key statistics from our report was that there were close to 7,000 permanent exclusions in the last academic year, but at any one time the census showed us that there were 48,000 children being educated in the alternative provision sector, so that is one in 200 students at any one time. This is quite a large part of our education system and, at the moment, it is not quite working in the way that it should”.

ACE Education are our expert partners for our Law and Compliance training courses. Our new course, Exclusions for Independent Review Panels, covers the duties of Independent Review Panel (IRP) members and clerks as outlined in the DfE Exclusions Guidance 2017.


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