The first tooth, step and word are soon followed by toddling around nursery. Then to big school where there will be the usual ups and downs, but where you have no doubt that a childhood full of personal achievement and healthy development awaits. Good grades, happy friendships and a bright future all in the bag for when the time comes for you to let that now not so little bundle set sail into the deep and often turbulent sea we call adulthood, telegraph.co.uk reported.
And for many parents that’s their experience. Mission accomplished. Job well done. But for others, who grasped parenthood with the same intent and belief, their experience turned out to be so very different.
Maybe their child’s behavioral problems or attachment issues saw them struggle to cope with the demands of school life. Maybe a learning difficulty brought frustration, isolation or disengagement. Maybe they couldn’t find anyone who fully understood what their child was really like and so how best to help them thrive through education. Maybe they found or felt an education system that was working against them rather than with them.
No parent sets out on that journey wanting or believing their child will be excluded from school. Yet in 2015/16 the parents of 6,685 children in England faced that realization. Why?
That is the question, amongst others, my review of school exclusions is seeking to address. It isn’t about whether we should or shouldn’t have school exclusions, as sadly there will always be occasions where, despite being used, as the UK Secretary of State said, as a last resort, exclusion is the only viable route left to take. It’s about understanding not just why in 2015/16 0.08 percent of children were permanently excluded from state funded schools in England, but why, as the Government’s Race Disparity Audit revealed, for some groups of children, including black Caribbean and Gypsy Roma and Traveler children, those with special educational needs, pupils eligible for free school meals, children in need and those in care, the rates of exclusion are much higher.
It will also seek to explain why we find not just stark variation in exclusion rates between different geographical areas with similar characteristics, but also between schools, often in the same area, with similar intakes.
I want to learn too about the approaches schools take to avoid exclusions and support those at risk, such as working with other local schools on managed moves to another local school, which can act as a fresh start with the right support for children at risk of exclusion.
That means considering carefully the drivers behind exclusion and looking in depth at current practice. We need to establish how schools and supporting agencies work together in relation to exclusions and whether (or not) it is effective in improving outcomes for those children.
Importantly I also want to hear from parents and children about their own experiences of exclusion, to fully understand the consequences of what may end up being a life-changing decision. My review will also be drawing on the best possible expertise, knowledge and practical understanding of what works in the field of exclusions, so that we cover every angle and leave no stone unturned in pursuit of the answers to the questions the review poses.