SCHOOLS NorthEast response on Ofsted's letter to Heads regarding exclusion rates in the North East

20th February 2018

Mike Parker, SCHOOLS NorthEast Director, said:

“We need to recognise that exclusions – fixed-term or permanent - are a last resort for the vast majority of school leaders. This is a complex issue and the data alone does not tell the full story.

“There are three main factors that are likely contributing to the disproportionate number of exclusions in the areas identified by Ofsted – changes in approaches to behaviour management; deepening deprivation; and, the breakdown of wider support within and around schools.

“In Redcar and Cleveland, as with a number of other authorities, there was a ‘no exclusions’ policy for a number of years, with managed pupil moves around schools. The zero-tolerance behaviour policies of some multi-academy trusts taking over schools in the area have changed this approach. That’s not to say that a tight focus on behaviour isn’t important, but it can and has significantly skewed exclusion rates in these areas.

“We cannot underestimate the deepening poverty affecting wider parts of the North East. It has an impact on learning, behaviour and attitudes to school among both the pupils and with parents.

“School leaders at both primary and secondary levels are reporting increasing and more complex needs issues among their pupil populations which creates huge challenges at a time when schools are cash strapped and the wider support around schools is declining.

“Schools also face increasing pressure from the government to improve and progress, which does not help the schools that struggle the most and those with pupils from such deprived backgrounds.”

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