However, for those children and families affected, these practices can have a devastating life-long effect on their education and future life chances.
“The rising rate of permanent exclusions and the growing incidence of off rolling have been a concern for the education profession for some time. The NEU commissioned the recently published report into off rolling by the Education Policy Institute precisely because of our worries about this practice and its impact on pupils in some schools. (1) It is extraordinary that it has taken the Government so long to catch up.
“Today’s report makes some sensible recommendations. However, it fails to acknowledge the core political policy drivers for exclusion and off rolling. These are the high stakes accountability system and the fragmentation of our school system into competing units chasing league table positions and high Ofsted scores, while accountability mechanisms such as local authorities have been undermined and stripped of their powers over thousands of academy schools. These are problems of the Government’s own making. It has created incentives for bad practice which, sadly, some schools have chosen to respond to.
“Timpson hasn’t thought hard enough about the system-wide drivers which are making inclusion harder and harder, including the serious SEND funding cuts. To support schools to ensure all exclusions are appropriate, we need to be honest about how funding cuts make it much harder to meet young people’s individual needs. Preventing exclusions requires intense individual support for young people, and schools collaborating together within a geographical unit long term. The Government’s decisions on funding and academisation have directly reduced both.
“Ultimately we need to tackle the high stakes accountability system and allow all schools to teach in ways which best suit their pupils. At the same time all schools should be brought within local accountability mechanisms under the local authority, and schools need to be properly funded and supported to ensure all children get the education they deserve.”