Disruptive children will not be excluded from school, says London council

·2-min read
New figures show that two million courses have been started through the Government’s flagship National Tutoring Programme this academic year (Owen Humphreys/PA) (PA Wire)
New figures show that two million courses have been started through the Government’s flagship National Tutoring Programme this academic year (Owen Humphreys/PA) (PA Wire)

Secondary schools in one London borough will not exclude students for behaving badly and will instead allow disruptive children to remain.

Southwark Council is believed to be the first local authority in the UK where schools have signed up to a zero exclusions policy.

Teachers will be encouraged to take a “trauma-informed” approach to pupil behaviour, and told not to take misbehaviour at face value. Only pupils who put another child’s safety at risk will be excluded.

It comes after a 2020 report by the council found Southwark to have a higher than average exclusion rate.

It also found academies would exclude more children than other schools.

A separate report, also from the council, found that black students in Southwark were 1.5 times more likely to be excluded than their white counterparts.

Newer figures show that in the autumn 2021 term, there were no exclusions in Southwark schools, and the council hopes it will be the first borough in England with zero exclusions in the coming years.

The Inclusion Charter calls for "100 per cent inclusion of children in education that keeps them safe and enables them to flourish".

Councillor Jasmine Ali, cabinet member for children, young people and education, said: "With over 95 per cent of schools at good or outstanding quality, we are really proud of our education offer.

"But we know that not every child finds mainstream education fits their needs.

"So we are here for those children especially - if they need particular support, either within the mainstream school setting, or in specialist education, and what we want to avoid at all costs, is exclusion, and children being left in a no-man’s-land where parents feel they have no choice but to try to educate their children themselves."

She added that when parents felt pressured to home-educate children, "this often proves an impossible challenge for families and leaves children vulnerable to falling out of society".

She said: "This is why we want the Inclusion Charter to keep them in formal education of all kinds - to be safe, to succeed, to flourish and to enjoy their education."

In a foreword to the charter, Ms Ali said the borough was proud of how most of its schools were rated "good" or "outstanding" by Ofsted, but added that "we are not talking about a simple rosy picture here".

She said: “We see poverty, we see inequality, we see gangs and violence and we have seen children excluded from education.”

Schools signing up to the charter must pledge not to "encourage parents to explore Elective Home Education as a resolution to issues with inclusion" - widely seen as a form of off-rolling.

The charter says that managed moves between schools may offer pupils a "fresh start" but that discussions about a possible move for a pupil must not take place informally.

It adds that it recognises "there are rare instances where exclusion is unavoidable to safeguard children".

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