Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “The decision to exclude a student is never taken lightly and always as a last resort. But school leaders do need the autonomy to decide when and how to exclude students to protect the health, safety, education or well-being of other pupils and staff in the school.
“Schools can’t do it on their own. To avoid exclusions, they need support from the other local services around them. The issues that underpin exclusions reach far beyond the school gates, so schools need access to expert resources to help them support at an early stage those students who need more help.
“Schools have seen big cuts to high needs funding for pupils with identified Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). We’ve also seen cuts in local authority services such as behaviour support teams, and reductions in pastoral care. Speech and language therapists for pupils with additional needs are disappearing. And there are frequently delays in providing mental health support for pupils who need it.
“This is an area where prevention is better than cure, but with school budgets at breaking point many of the measures that schools take to ensure good behaviour and adequate support for pupils are under threat.”
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