Schools in Southwark will not exclude students for behaving badly, according to council documents.
Secondary schools in the south London borough will agree to keep disruptive children, unless they put another child's safety at risk. Southwark Council is said to be the first local authority in the UK to have schools sign up to such an agreement.
A 2020 report by the council found Southwark to have a higher than average exclusion rate. It also found academies would exclude more children than other schools. A separate report, also from the council, found that black students in Southwark were 1.5 times more likely to be excluded than their white counterparts. In England, the permanent exclusion rate was 0.06 in 2019-20. Councillors hope the borough will be the first in England to exclude no pupils in the coming years, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).
Teachers will be encouraged to try to understand the reason for bad behaviour by using a "trauma-informed" response and are being told not to take misbehaviour at "face value". Southwark schools did not exclude any students during the 2021 autumn term.
Lucy Cavell, Trauma Informed Practitioner for Barnardo's, Oldbury, West Midlands
Clair Graham, Head of Service of Contextual Safeguarding Birmingham Children’s Trust
#saynotoexclusionsWonderful news we just need others to follow … Birmingham let’s step up !
Exclusions data shows that children who have had permanent and fixed-term exclusions are likely to be adversely affected by issues outside of their control. Long waiting lists result in missed diagnoses for physical, medical and mental health conditions. The data also illustrates that the majority of children who receive fixed-term exclusions do so repeatedly.
Research by the University of Edinburgh shows that the male prison population includes 63% of inmates who were excluded from school. Pupils excluded at the age of 12 are four times as likely as other children to receive custodial sentences as adults. The trajectory for children with school exclusions is poor. An increase in challenging behaviour is common, with longstanding learned behaviour being difficult to self-regulate while in or outside of the setting.
We need to break the cycle - and soon.