It’s all very well that the education secretary has told head teachers that they will have the government’s full backing if they expel or suspend badly behaved pupils from their schools, but what are they putting in place to support the “badly behaved” pupils? Yes, they have to consider high standards and proper discipline, but by making it easier for schools to expel children, they are creating even more of a problem for the ones that are getting left behind.
“The Difference” is a new charity that has put together a group of high-flying teachers to start working in pupil referral units in order to help improve the quality of alternative provision for children. This seems to me to be an excellent initiative given how many schools are now excluding children on a regular basis – apparently 42 children are being excluded from mainstream education every day. EVERY DAY. FORTY TWO. Multiply that by a year and you get 12,600 (and that’s taking term times into consideration). What is happening to them all? Kicked out of the system and expected to work on their own? Only a very few lucky ones will get the parent or mentor support to have tutors or lesson time elsewhere.
Surely this is a national outrage and a key reason why we end up with the corrosive effect of so many kids roaming the streets – bored and angry? Excluded students are over 200 times more likely to have been involved in a knife-carrying offence.
It shouldn’t be down to a charity to sort this out, the government needs to be getting behind this initiative in the same way that they’ve done for Teach First and sort out this massive problem. Yes, of course it’s difficult for teachers to have to include difficult students, but the solution is not to just chuck them elsewhere when most of them need intensive support for a wider number of societal and personal issues.
All excluded pupils should be given a chance to thrive. They too are entitled to a proper education with qualified teachers and a full day of lessons catering to their needs in order to keep them busy and on track.