Should fixed-term exclusions be replaced with after-school "rehabilitation"?

Francis Gilbert's picture
A new report by Barnados, Not Present and Not Correct,  shows that school exclusions not only don't work, but also lead to vulnerable students falling into lives of crimes. Two thirds of secondary school fixed period exclusions were given to pupils who had already received one earlier in the year, showing that such exclusions generally don't work. This is something many teachers have been saying for a long time; I wrote about it a year ago. The new White Paper is very confusing on the issue of exclusions; headteachers have the right to exclude without being scrutinised but apparently they will be obliged to deal with excluded children, with the money ear-marked for exclusions which is currently given to Local Authorities, who have a duty to ensure excluded children's are educated, being devolved to schools. Pupil Referral Units or PRUs, where many permanently excluded children are 'educated', will have the right to become Academies, giving these schools greater powers to exclude the excluded children they take in. Then what if a child is excluded from the PRU? The LA will have to pick up the pieces with no money to deal with the problem. It doesn't seem to make sense to me at all the more I look at it!

Basically fixed-term exclusions don't work; difficult children see them as a "holiday". They are more often than not supervised when they are excluded and left to wander the streets, causing all sorts of trouble. I think it would be far better to invest money in paying teachers to supervise weekend and after-school "rehabilitation" sessions (I don't want to call them detentions) where these pupils have "catch up" lessons in the areas that they are falling behind in. A huge proportion of excluded children have difficulty keeping up with the work; this is usually the reason why they've been excluded in the first place. These sessions will be seen as more of a punishment than being excluded -- which is generally laughed at by hardened offenders -- and will also help with getting them back on track. Something has to be done because the current status quo is a disaster.
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