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Is the exclusion of pupils adding to knife crime?

18 Apr

I        The school/academy dilemma

Children’s welfare is of paramount importance to schools and academies.   Happiness and safety are the twin conditions required to promote their growth mentally, physically, morally and spiritually – enabling them to develop and flourish during the compulsory stage of their education. They keep them grounded for the rest of their lives.   Were a school/academy to be wanting by Ofsted in its safeguarding arrangements it is peremptorily placed in special measures.  This does not negate the requirement that a school/academy is expected to demonstrate that its pupils are achieving.

Regarding the last requirement, schools and academies are caught between a rock and a hard place. It is imperative that governors, headteachers and staff give children every opportunity to succeed – but at what cost?   In a number of egregious cases schools/academies are “off-rolling” the “problematic children to twinkle in the firmament of academic achievement”.  Funding difficulties heighten the dilemma for them, making it that much more daunting to educate problematic children in the same classrooms as the better-behaved ones, disrupting their education too.

The evidence is stark: in the Autumn Term of Year 11, several “turned off” youngsters are excluded – often permanently – so that they will not bring their schools/academies shame by doing badly in their GCSEs.

And when that happens, there are drug gangs out there ready to capitalise on these “turned off” youngsters who feel education’s “discarded” outsiders, causing their lives to spiral downwards.   To defend themselves and/or prove they are macho (most of them are boys), they resort to knife crime.

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Our responsibility for vulnerable pupils: landmark exclusion cases

18 Apr

I        Duty of care for vulnerable pupils

The ground on which bulls fight suffers the most. Bulls may damage each other, but it is the battleground that is smothered.   This is what happens when it comes to caring for and educating children, especially the vulnerable ones: the bulls are the adults, the ground the children.    We adults often forget that, we have a profound duty of care for our youngsters and sometimes fall well short of discharging our responsibilities towards them.

While battles rage about how schools and academies should be judged, and they are compared to one another by the Department for Education (DfE), Ofsted, the politicians, school and academy governors, education leaders, parents, academics and consultants (the bulls), the children (the ground) suffers.  The most vulnerable children – those with special educational needs and disabilities – suffer more than most.  In the academic year 2016/17, the latest year for which these statistics are available, SEND pupils constituted nearly 50% of permanent exclusions.  These children were six times more likely to be permanently excluded than those without special needs.  Often, the covert reasons for excluding them is so that the schools and academies can raise their positions in the test and examination league tables.

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