Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, has commented on the Education Committee’s report on the exclusion of pupils from schools in England.

“We agree with the Education Committee that the Government needs to discourage the ‘off-rolling’ of pupils, which is a perverse consequence of the current accountability system that makes some schools feel penalised for teaching pupils with additional needs. To best counter this, the Government should change the accountability system so schools are given credit for working with children with complex needs.

“We are pleased the Education Committee is calling for an end to zero tolerance behaviour policies, which discriminate against disadvantaged children and those with special educational needs and disabilities. Government incentives to make schools more inclusive are welcome, but should not be inspected by Ofsted or become a further stick with which to beat schools. And the Government should promote additional incentives including quicker access to specialist support, additional funding and an increased role for the local authority as well as less testing and the assurance that the curriculum will remain creative and flexible to allow all pupils to thrive.

“The Government needs to tighten the regulation of alternative provision so every child in an alternative setting has the same educational opportunities as pupils in mainstream schools. The National Education Union supports the Committee’s call for the Timpson Review of Exclusions to address funding and the detrimental effects of the current accountability measures and hope the Review listens to education professionals to ensure all children and young people get the best possible chances in all education settings.”