What we can learn from the RSA report on Pinball Kids

In March 2020, the RSA worked with the Esmee Fairburn Foundation to explore why there has been a 60% increase in the number of pupils permanently excluded from England’s schools over a five- year period. The report explored the causes of rising exclusions; including wider societal factors; direct consequences of deliberate policy making; and unintended consequences of policy making.

The NEU agrees with the conclusions of the report. These conclusions were that, to reduce unnecessary exclusions, we need to address the systemic causes of rising exclusions and to create the conditions, within schools, which allow schools to hold onto, and meet the pastoral and learning needs of, at-risk children. Indeed, pastoral and learning needs are inextricably linked, and have a reciprocal relationship.

Considerations for school leaders

There is strong evidence to suggest that these are the important considerations for school leaders in order to create the conditions to support young people at risk of exclusion.

  • How can you strengthen pastoral structures? You could consider making pastoral experts including non-teachers part of your senior leadership team or introduce a new professional development pathway for non-teachers as welfare managers. You could consider reducing the size of tutor groups.
  • Can you employ primary trained specilaists in your secondary school? They could adi transition from primary school to secondary school by supporting students who find this a struggle. Additional support with literacy and numeracy can help students access the whole curriculum.
  • How can you engage other professionals to support your core staff team? Research from the RSA study found that teachers want support from other professionals to reduce the number of times they internally exclude pupils. You may consider co-locating mentl health, social care, speech and language or other professionals on site at schools to bring their support closer to your staff and pupils. Some schools are doing this.
  • Do you engage families as partners in education? Proven methods include regular positive communications about a child’s progress and by inviting them to learn with staff, for example during inset days
  • Do you actively promote diversity within your school? This is important because of the links between representation in the curriculum, and a sense of belonging for students.
  • Have you reviewed your behaviour policy with inclusion in mind? The policy should focus on maintaining good relationships and repairing them when broken. View the NEU Behaviour Review advice.

For the full report and the conclusions about the conditions for change which we need to create, view the full RSA report here.