Responding to the publication of a report on alternate provision and exclusions by the Education Committee today (Wednesday 25 July), 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. School leaders 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.
“This is an area where prevention is better than cure, but school budgets are at breaking point so many of the measures that schools take to ensure good behaviour and adequate support for pupils are under threat.
“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 disappearing. In addition, there are frequently delays in providing mental health support for pupils who need it.
“Schools have also seen big cuts to high needs funding for pupils with identified Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
“Schools can’t do it on their own. To avoid exclusions, they need support from the other local services around them. Exclusion must not be thought of as getting a child ‘out of the way’ but of finding a better place to serve that child. 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.”
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