To: Gavin Williamson Education Secretary
Make Permanent Exclusions Illegal
Permanently excluding a child is an act in which a school decides, plans and then carries out the traumatic punishment of rejecting that child. There is no moral argument to justify saying to a child that they are no longer wanted by the institution whose function is to act in loco parentis for a substantial period of that child’s life.
Why is this important?
In state-run schools, and in private schools where at least part of the funding came from government, corporal punishment was outlawed by the British Parliament in 1986, following a 1982 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that such punishment could not be administered without parental consent, and that a child's "right to education" could not be infringed by suspending children who, with parental approval, refused to submit to corporal punishment.
It became apparent that hitting children in school was morally wrong and now it is illegal. Permanently excluding a child is an act in which a school decides, plans and then executes the traumatic punishment of rejection. The similarities with the decision making, planning and then execution of a physical attack on a child are painfully obvious. There is no moral argument to justify saying to a child they are no longer wanted by the institution that is set up to act in loco parentis for a substantial period of that child’s life.
The first objection to making permanent exclusion illegal will inevitably be that schools cannot cope with the behaviour of some children and they need to be able to safeguard other children and staff. In order to make permanent exclusions illegal this objection has to be answered to the complete satisfaction of both teachers and parents. If the law were to change then it would have to be accompanied by an increase in school budgets to ensure they are able to adequately fund the options that are available instead of permanently excluding the child. This proposal fully recognises that this is a pre-requisite and requires all those who might support this movement to sign up to ensuring schools are able to deliver their new statutory duty and ensure all their children receive a full-time education until their legal school leaving age.
The moral argument for not permanently excluding a child is clear. If for a minute you ignore the reason for the permanent exclusion, then the action of removing a child from its school is a traumatic event which inevitable has consequences for the child. Put simply it is a rejection of the child by an organisation which is charged with acting as a good parent while it educates them. The act of a permanent exclusion (rejection) is not one a good parent would countenance and yet we allow schools to do this based on the excuse that there was no other option. We aim to prove this is a false premise which allows schools to abdicate all responsibility for a child who they were supposed to nurture and educate.
To demonstrate the number and variety of options a school can already use instead of a permanent exclusion the following list (which is not exhaustive) has been assembled.
1. Managed move to another school
2. Move to a pupil referral unit
6. Move to a special school
7. Part time timetables
8. Alternative education providers
10 Temporary exclusion while other options are sought.
“But children who are permanently excluded are not singled out; it is only based on what they have done?”
78% of pupils who are permanently excluded either have SEN, are classified as in need or are eligible for free school meals.
11% of permanently excluded children have all three characteristics
Boys with social, emotional and mental health difficulties (SEMH) but no statement are around 3.8 times more likely to be permanently excluded than a non-SEN child.
SEMH girls are around 3 times more likely.
Children in receipt of Free School Meals are around 45% more likely to be excluded than other pupils
Black Caribbean are around 1.7 times more likely, and Mixed White and Black Caribbean children were around 1.6 times more likely, to be permanently excluded compared to White British children.
Children on a Children in Need plan are around 4 times more likely to be permanently excluded compared to those with no social care classification
Children who have a Child Protection Plan are around 3.5 times more likely to be permanently excluded.
Children who are looked after are around 2.3 times as likely to be permanently excluded than children who have never been supported by social care.
It is clear that if you are a vulnerable child, you are in far more likely to be excluded than those who are not vulnerable.
It is perverse that the children in most need of stability, understanding and support are those who are far more likely to be rejected by the very people who are paid to prepare them for adulthood.
This campaign seeks to make permanent exclusions illegal whilst funding and supporting schools to find and organise a form of education that removes the stigma and trauma of a permanent exclusion.
The IRCT is starting this national campaign in order to encourage all schools, politicians and parents to come up with a different system than the current one which officially tells children they are no longer wanted by their school. Many of the children permanently excluded have already suffered Adverse Childhood Experiences. To officially inflect another trauma on these children is both cruel and unnecessary.
All children permanently excluded are still legally entitled to a full-time education which the local authority has to provide. Why then does there have to be a formal rejection of the child in order to try and find suitable education for these children? Surely the organisation that knows them best should be central to ensuring any new plan addresses the needs of the child.
How it will be delivered
by email to the minister.