On 7 May 2019, the long awaited Timpson Review of School Exclusion was published and the Government Responds. It made 30 recommendations with a view to improving the consistency and appropriate use of exclusion and to ensure that the school system provides the best conditions for every child to thrive and progress.
This government inquiry into school exclusions in England was commissioned to look into how head teachers use exclusion in practice and why some groups of pupils are more likely to be excluded. It has taken over a year to complete and obtained nearly 1,000 responses to its call for evidence.
The inquiry showed that outcomes for excluded children are worse; they achieve fewer good passes in English and maths GCSEs and a third of pupils who are put in alternative provision after being excluded at Key Stage 4, don't progress to further education, employment or training.
The inquiry found that certain groups are more likely to be excluded including:
When children have several of these characteristics, their risk of exclusion is increased even further.
The inquiry also highlighted concerning evidence about off-rolling and the inappropriate use of isolation booths as a form of behavioural management.
In off-rolling, children are made to leave school without being formally excluded, for example, where schools put pressure on families to home educate their child. These children will not have access to the safeguards of the normal exclusions process including the trigger to provide education after 6 days. This is unlawful.
In isolation booths, children will spend time on their own, or in small groups, away from their normal classes. If poorly used, these booths can take a child away from their education.
The inquiry made 30 recommendations including:
The Government has already responded to the inquiry and has committed to make schools accountable for the outcome of permanently excluded children and in autumn 2019, will be consulting on how to make these reforms. The Government is already consulting on the introduction of a register of all pupils not in specified education, with a view to tackling the issue of off-rolling.
They have also committed to bring forward fresh guidance on exclusion, mental health and behaviour in schools and behaviour and discipline in school, which will include clarification on the use of isolation booths, by summer 2020.
We've previously highlighted a legal challenge to the use of isolation booths and the impact they had on the young person. As things stand, the guidance on the use of isolation booths is limited and ambiguous. It allows for significant variation in their use and potentially allows schools to use them as an alternative to following formal fixed term exclusion processes.
Whilst we welcome the outcome of the inquiry and the Government's response, we have concerns about the length of time it will take to implement these steps. In particular, we are concerned that clarifying guidance on the use of isolation booths is not expected for over a year.
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