The Nisai Review on School Exclusions
School exclusions are at the highest they have been and many of us eagerly await Edward Timpson’s imminent review. His review will explore exclusion rates across primary and secondary schools and process changes going forward. In the meantime, we present you with ‘The Nisai Review on School Exclusions.’
What are the biggest challenges regarding school exclusions?
Is it the children or the lack of tools and strategies available to schools?
Is the most effective way to deal with fixed-term and permanent exclusions through PRUs, or by providing more resources to schools through the development of funding?
How best can schools be supported in dealing with and support students with challenging behaviour?
The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) states that out of more than 14,000 children and parents in the UK, school exclusions were most common in children with lower socio-economic status, those with language difficulties, lower education attainment or those with SEND and mental health. This raises a question as to whether the behaviour of these children is related to their needs not being met within school.
Sending young people home to their vices and letting them wander the streets makes them an open target for criminal gangs, which can, in some cases link to the recent increase in knife crime across the UK.
Instead, why not punish them by keeping them in school, providing them with an alternative curriculum and not by giving them an easy way out? Deliver an education that is structured and engaging – keeping them safe from the world of crime and unemployment. In many cases, bad behaviour can be down to students seeing the reaction of others, lack of interest or an undiagnosed special education need.
Timpson’s review urges for a “significant shift” within schools, alternative provision settings and councils in a call for ministers to “remove the potential” for anyone to cheat the system by “permanently excluding children at the most crucial time in their education.”
After seeing extracts of Timpson’s draft, Schools Week commented that Timpson was encouraging the Department for Education to make heads “continue to be responsible for children who have been permanently excluded, including commissioning for high-quality and safe alternative provision where there is a need”. Surely, the safest place for them to be is at school, where they can be supported and as a result, attendance figures are not impacted as heavily.
OFSTED Curriculum and School Exclusions
The recent OFSTED consultation on changes to its inspection framework makes reference to curriculum and changes that need to be made. Inspectors will be making judgement on the personal development of learners by evaluating the extent to which include but are not exclusive to:
- the curriculum extends beyond the academic, technical or vocational and provides learners’ broader development. enabling them to develop and discover their interests and talents
- the curriculum and the provider’s wider work support learners to develop their character – including their resilience, confidence and independence – and help them know how to keep physically and mentally healthy
Many heads within schools agree to be accountable for excluded students, but would like the tools and support to be able to do their job properly. As education providers, we must come together to find a way of keeping these young people in learning. The solutions are not always simple, but generally the best place for these young people to be is in school. However, sometimes a more collaborative approach is needed. The support and understanding of a school is essential, with an approach that not only educates the child but also doesn’t put a strain on existing school resources.
Some school heads may argue that there is no option but to remove children from school when their behaviour is affecting other pupils. However, this should not mean that they have to stop learning. In fact, a large number of permanent exclusions occur off the back of fixed-term school exclusions – so should we be looking at preventative and proactive strategies rather reaction ones as a result of school exclusions?
Keeping them in education
At Nisai, we can help schools to bridge any gaps in their available provision through our six week Core Curriculum programme delivered through the Nisai Virtual Academy (NVA). Students can study this short-term programme at Key Stages 3 and 4 with the flexibility of choosing how many subjects they would like to learn. Our lessons are live and delivered by our quality, knowledgeable teachers. If schools choose to enrol students in a programme such as this as opposed to exclusion, students will be able to continue their education making less of a negative impact on the results when they return to school. The schools in turn do not get hit by the decreasing attendance figures.
Nisai House is an OFSTED graded Good ‘with outstanding features’ school that not only nurtures and supports young people but also incorporates an innovative learning approach. We support learners not just by pushing academics, but also from a social and well-being side through project based learning and extra-curricular activities. As educators, we must help learners develop their skills as well as develop themselves as people.
A Collaborative Approach
If we work together to support children through their educational journeys, schools will not longer need to be accused of “playing” the system and getting rid of students who may perform badly in exams, compromising the school’s place in nationwide league tables. Timpson’s review will explore the process of schools in relation to directing pupils to additional educational support or alternative provision without completely excluding them from education.
We are not saying that Timpson’s school exclusion review will have all the answers. We are not saying that badly behaved learners should not be punished. Punish them by educating them, by understanding them and giving them a second or third chance. Where there is a need to permanently exclude then let’s look at provision that addresses the social and emotional needs of these young people and incorporate academics when appropriate.
If you must remove students from the school environment, provide them with another route to education to fill this gap. Keep up the pace of their learning with short or long-term provision programmes that are appropriate for their needs and direct them to positive pathways.