Is school exclusion a problem?

“Meditation could replace school detention”, suggests councillor Shuguftah Quddoos, who represents the Berridge ward at Nottingham City Council, when she made this suggestion during a discussion about exclusion rates at secondary schools. Speaking at a Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee meeting, Ms Quddoos said she was not convinced detention was the best approach for vulnerable young people.

I also read in a BBC news article about the number of excluded pupils; “More than 200 pupils spent at least five straight days in isolation booths in schools in England last year, a BBC News investigation has learned.

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, says school isolation can be “distressing and degrading” and she is concerned it is being used “as a gateway to excluding and off-rolling”, where pupils are removed from a school’s register.

I had never come across this idea of exclusion until one of my children’s classmates, when they were at primary school, was prevented from attending a school trip. It seemed a rather extreme way of teaching a child that their behaviour was not acceptable. Sure, if they cause harm and distress to themselves or others something must be done to prevent further escalation? The trouble was this did not really stop this particularly troubled child from ‘misbehaving’ many times during their time at primary school. In fact, it appeared to have made it worse in some ways. They carried on like this well into secondary school until they were sent to a special unit where they turned it around just in time for their GCSEs.

I do not know the circumstances about this child, except they were in my daughter’s class and she told me they were actually quite bright. I couldn’t help but wonder, if any one of the teachers or adults in this child’s life had known about the SEJ would they have gone that far down the line? I confess I used to dislike this child because I judged them to be disruptive and causing harm to the rest of the class. I wish I had known about the SEJ when I first came across this pupil. I now know that the SEJ would have shown me my inaccurate perception and pointed me to a truer, more inclusive view. The SEJ would have solved the issue of their cause of ‘misbehaviour’ by showing the adults how and what to do when it first happened.

This is the story of 1 child. Multiply that by more than the 200 that was mentioned in BBC news (and others not mentioned).  Imagine what a different experience these ‘excluded’ invisible lost children would have if adults knew about the SEJ and supported them. Each one of these pupils has the right to an education and to be recognised and appreciated for what they CAN do. The SEJ will show you this. If you want to know how, take a look at the SEJ website and please get in touch so you can integrate the SEJ into your current setting so we can offer truly inclusive education to all no matter how the child is ’behaving’.

Dr M Howard-Kishi

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