The fact that a rising number of exclusions correlates with the squeeze on school funding is no coincidence, writes Geoff Barton in the TES

Geoff Barton questions the stats on exclusions and provides some thoughtful insights into whether the panic around exclusions and increased knife-crime is justified… More importantly, he highlights the clear link between reduced funding and increased exclusion rates. ..

“Should we be worried about these figures? Of course, we should be. Any decision to remove a child from a school is an incredibly serious matter. The rise in exclusion rates is clearly a matter of legitimate and proper public concern. But we need to retain some sort of perspective about the numbers involved.

The statistics tell us what we would expect; that decisions to permanently exclude are rare. Schools are not full of trigger-happy headteachers turfing out pupils at the drop of a hat, but professional, committed individuals who make this difficult decision only after much thought and soul-searching.

And they do so not to manipulate league tables but because they have a duty to all the pupils and staff in their schools who have a right to learn and work in a calm and safe environment.

There has to be a point at which the behaviour of a pupil is so persistently disruptive or a risk to others that their continued presence at the school is irreconcilable with the best interests of the wider school community.

And an exclusion which is properly conducted according to laid-down and detailed procedures may actually benefit the pupil who is excluded by giving them a fresh start in a new school or a place in alternative provision where there is a high level of tailored support.

The million-dollar question then is why are we seeing an increase in exclusions? In fact, on this occasion, that cliché is particularly apposite. Because this is a question of money. The rising number of exclusions correlates almost precisely with the squeeze on school funding.

A coincidence? Not from what our members tell us. What we hear about is the heartbreaking cuts many have had to make to pastoral support, classroom assistants, educational psychology, and all the other services for vulnerable children.”

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