National Network of Parent Carer Forums

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Review of School Exclusions

July 9, 2018

On Wednesday 27th June, NNPCF co-chairs Maureen Morris and Mrunal Sisodia attended a roundtable meeting of the school exclusions review being chaired by Edward Timpson.

The review has been set up by the Department for Education to explore how head teachers use exclusions in practice and why some groups of pupils (including those with SEND) are more likely to be excluded. There are also differences between schools and local areas across the country and the review will seek to understand the factors that underlie these differences highlighting best practice where appropriate.

School exclusions have been identified as a major area of concern amongst parents of children and young people with SEND.

 

As the recent NNPCF survey found, 95% of forums that responded had evidence of concerning and possibly illegal school exclusion practices in their local area. in the call for evidence that preceded this meeting there were 904 responses of which 611 came from parents, the majority of which were referring to cases with SEND. This evidence is supported by the trend in national statistics that show that those on SEN support are four times more likely to have a permanent exclusion than the national average, and those with EHCPs twice as likely. Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission too have raised concerns about the level of SEND exclusions in their “One year on” report on local area inspections.

The roundtable focussed on SEND exclusions and was attended by head teachers from mainstream and special schools, educational psychologists, local authority representatives and advisers and officials from the Department of Education. This was the first in a series of meetings with a range of representatives, organisations, and practitioners.

 

Listening to feedback from our membership, we pointed out that the incentives for schools do not always encourage inclusive practices – the Ofsted inspection framework for schools, published data and the recent changes in the national curriculum all place a great emphasis on academic attainment. On top of this the squeeze on resources that many schools are experiencing means they are struggling to support children and young people with SEND.

 

However, in each local area parents are aware of schools that have an excellent track record of supporting children and young people with SEND – the schools that “get it” and have become “SEND magnets” in the area. This suggests that school leaders have a great role to play in setting the right culture and values for SEND in schools and that if some can do it despite the obvious challenges, all should be able to.

The NNPCF is asking that the co-production with children and families be placed at the heart of all interactions and that the responsibilities of school leaders in relation to SEND be put under greater focus. We also asked for key changes in the environment that schools operate in (e.g. a more holistic Ofsted inspection regime) to align the incentives for school leaders with the needs of children with SEND.

The review will report in December 2018 and will include further roundtables and fieldwork in local areas and schools with differing rates of exclusions. We may be asked to contribute further and will continue to provide updated information for our member Parent Carer Forums and their communities.