Today (Thursday 29 July), the Government released figures for exclusions and suspensions in England for the academic year 2019-2020.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said: “The decision to exclude a pupil will always be a last resort, and in almost all cases a great deal of support will have been put in place by the school to try to help the pupil concerned. We need to be careful not to read too much into today’s figures for September 2019 to July 2020, and remember that they would have been affected by the disruption caused by coronavirus.
“One of the best ways to avoid exclusions is for the pupil to receive access to specialist, cross-sector support as early as possible. Where this works best, mainstream schools in partnership with specialist settings, such as Alternative Provision, are able to maintain education and support for our most vulnerable pupils. Sadly, we know that schools are finding it increasingly hard to access that support. We’ve seen cuts in local authority services such as behaviour support teams, combined with reductions in pastoral care. Speech and language therapists for pupils with additional needs are also disappearing. In addition, there are frequent delays in providing mental health support for pupils who need it.
“Schools play a vital role in supporting children in this area but they can’t do it on their own. To ensure that the number of exclusions does not start to rise again next year schools need the funded support of specialist services to meet every child’s needs.”
First published 29 July 2021