The Timpson Review on school exclusions has been published, with 30 recommendations for change. Recommendations include making settings more accountable for school exclusions in an “effective and fair way” and offering more guidance and tools to teachers, writes QA Education editor Victoria Galligan.
A £10million crackdown on poor behaviour also formed part of the key measures which are being taken by the Government in a bid to reduce exclusions.
The review, carried out by Edward Timpson CBE, highlighted the fact that 78% of permanent exclusions concerned vulnerable groups – children with SEN, classified as in need or receiving free school meals.
Mr Timpson said: “No parent sends their child off to school believing they will end up being excluded but when this does happen we all need to be confident we have a well-functioning system that makes sure no child slips through the net. Exclusion from school should never mean exclusion from education.
“Throughout this review I have found too much variation in the use of exclusions and too many missed opportunities for children to remain in the education that best suits their needs.
Although I did see examples of schools using exclusions appropriately and effectively, there is clear room for improvement and everyone – from teachers and parents, the Department for Education and Ofsted, to local authorities and children’s services – has their part to play.
“We expect school leaders to make sure all children are getting a good education, but we must equip them with the skills and capacity to do so. We need to reward schools who are doing this well and hold to account those who are not. Most importantly there must be safeguards in place for when things go wrong so that we can keep children on the path towards the successful future they all deserve.”
The publication of the review came after Education Secretary Damian Hinds made a Call for Evidence on SEND provision, last week.
Welcome change on school exclusions
Achievement for All – a not-for-profit organisation that works with schools and settings to improve outcomes for all young people vulnerable to underachievement – welcomed the review. Its CEO, Professor Sonia Blandford, said: “We welcome this important and vital review into exclusions. Too many children and young people are excluded, slip through the net and fail to receive the education they deserve.
“With an inclusive and whole-school approach to education, permanent and fixed period exclusions can be reduced and futures transformed. Through our work with over 3.86 million beneficiaries including pupils, teachers, parents and carers, we know that many schools don’t feel well supported or equipped in this area.
“We need to ensure they have access to a framework that focuses on quality teaching and learning, use appropriate interventions and engage parents and carers effectively.
“Parent and carer engagement must be viewed as an integral part of school engagement – not an add on. We developed our Achieving Schools programme to meet these needs. In 2018, we reduced school exclusions in the settings we worked with by 70%. As the Timpson Review of School Exclusions states, a well-functioning system is needed to support all children and young people.
“Exclusion from education must be avoided and we look forward to working with the government and other organisations in this area to ensure every child, irrespective of their background challenge or need, can achieve.”
What does the review on school exclusions mean for teachers?
Guidance for teachers will be updated, which will mean training and materials being made available for school leaders. The Government says Mr Timpson’s proposed reforms will support schools to intervene early before exclusion is necessary, improve alternative provision, as well as reducing incentives for schools to off-roll pupils (take children off the register and therefore out of the education system, without a formal permanent exclusion).
And the new Ofsted framework will also require inspectors to question schools where there are signs of off-rolling, and instruct them to report where pupils are taken off-roll for the benefit of the school rather than the in the interests of the pupil.
The report also encourages multi-agency working, saying “it cannot be the job of schools alone to take action to understand and address the complex underlying needs that children may have”.
The Government should also clarify the role of local authorities to advocate for children with additional needs and those at risk of moving out of school through exclusion or otherwise, and require them to convene local forums in which schools participate, says the review.
It also recommended that the Government extends its funding to equality and diversity hubs beyond 2020, to help increase the diversity of senior leadership teams in schools.