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Summary of Catch22’s round table event exploring school exclusion
13 December 2011
On Tuesday 13 December Catch22 hosted a round table event exploring the issues around school exclusion.
The event, chaired by Jessica Shepherd, Education Correspondent at the Guardian, was attended by key figures from academies, local authorities, think tanks and policy makers.
The school exclusion landscape
Chris Wright, Chief Executive, Catch22 opened the event, giving an overview of Catch22’s work, and context to the issue.
‘In 2007 there were 300,000 fixed-term exclusions. One third of prisoners have been excluded from schools, one third of rioters this summer had at some point been excluded from school.’
Tom Ogg, author of the Civitas report on school exclusion followed, labelling the current approach to exclusions (limiting resources and then punishing the child) as flawed.
‘There is an incentive for schools to dump children off-site – and the school is not then responsible for whether or not these alternative projects and providers are of good quality.
There is no provision of special educational needs when the child is referred – the independent or alternative provider will only get the state allowance for this child, and this is a major problem.’
Mainstream schools should have the responsibility to provide the alternative for excluded children. Excluded children need to have the right to influence their schooling.’
A headteacher's perspective
Sir William Atkinson, Headteacher, Phoenix High School, highlighted that to make an impact schools must work closely with the home and the family, look at the causes of behaviour and invest in a child’s development.
‘The system doesn’t make enough provision for them to re-engage. Alternative education is expensive but a price society must pay. Integration can only happen by working with parents, youngsters much go into high quality education to re-engage with learning.’
Communications skills and exclusion
66% of children at risk of exclusion have communications difficulties. Virginia Beardshaw, Chief Executive, I CAN commented:
‘By secondary school education is very language focused. There are a range of ways to deal with language problems to move into a more positive cycle – good language skills allow children to express themselves in a range of ways, in a variety of social situations.’
With skills and education it is possible to break out of the poverty cycle. I CAN and Catch22, as part of Engage in Education, are trying to work before exclusion, to boost language.’
The debate was then opened up to the floor where the following questions were covered:
- Is it possible to have schools with zero exclusion rates?
- Who is responsible for making sure excluded children get an education?
- How else can we prevent well-behaved children losing out on their education because of disruptive pupils?
- What is the role of external providers in supporting schools?
- How can we engage parents of young people at risk of exclusion?
Chris Wright summarised:
‘These young people’s lives are greatly impacted by their schooling – we must do more to have accountability and to coordinate best practice. We much hold people accountable – and break the exclusion cycle.’