ADCS response to the exclusions review
Responding to Edward Timpson’s review of school exclusions Rachel Dickinson, ADCS President, said:
“We welcome the publication of Edward Timpson’s long awaited review on exclusions. A good education, that provides children with the tools to succeed, is the most important gift we can give them. The review found that whilst most schools work hard to be inclusive, there is too much variation in the system in how exclusions are used with some schools excluding or ‘off rolling’ learners, despite this not being in their best interest. Both fixed term and permanent exclusions have risen since 2013/14 and the review identified some pupils, including those receiving support from social care, eligible for free school meals or from certain ethnic backgrounds are more likely to be excluded than their peers, as are children with special education needs and disabilities. This cannot be right particularly when considering being out of school places children at greater risk of exploitation and being unemployed than their peers. Exclusion should only be used as a last resort after all other options have been tried and tested, anything less sends the wrong message to our children and young people about how we value them and their futures.
“Whilst the role of local authorities in relation to education has changed over the years, we remain responsible for the outcomes of all children in our local area, and have a key role to play in ensuring that the school system works for all children, in all schools. ADCS would support a clear statement of this role by the Department for Education, particularly in relation to acting as an advocate for vulnerable groups of learners, and their parents or carers. Many of the report’s other recommendations are sensible - making schools accountable for the educational outcomes of the pupils they exclude makes absolute sense and would potentially remove the risk of pupils being off rolled. We are pleased the government has stated its commitment to do this and to review its guidance on exclusions policies. But, accountability measures alone will not prevent pupils from getting to the point of exclusion. The report acknowledges schools need more support to understand and respond to the needs of individual children before they get to the point of exclusion, part of this is ensuring schools have enough funding and resources to support children who could, with the right support, stay within the mainstream system, rather than be squeezed out. Local authorities must also be properly funded for our preventative duties enabling us to work with children and young people earlier, to address their needs before they reach crisis point. ADCS believes a culture change is urgently required at all levels to prevent children from falling through the gaps in the education system, from Whitehall to classrooms across the country. This will not be easy, but it is absolutely necessary. ADCS members stand ready to work with the Department for Education and all schools to make the necessary changes to ensure the school system works for all children.”