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Children's commissioner says exclusions should be by the book

29/04/2013 Joanna
The children's commissioner for England has urged primary and secondary teachers to take care to adhere to due processes when excluding pupils from school.

Dr Maggie Atkinson has published a report containing the "conservative estimate" that thousands of pupils across hundreds of schools were affected by exclusions in which their school did not follow the required procedures.

Examples of these types of instances included schools not recording exclusions in the proper manner or through placing unruly pupils on 'extended study leave', part-time timetables, or 'alternative provision'.

Other recorded cases involved parents being compelled to move their pupils to another school, encouraging children to stay at home and sending home children with special educational needs (SEN) as their carer or teaching assistant was absent.

According to Dr Atkinson, these occasions often arose due to children, parents and teachers being unaware of laws over exclusions.

She also cited a lack of sanctions against improper exclusions as part of the problem, along with the fact that no official body, with the partial exception of Ofsted, does enough to investigate these instances and reduce the frequency with which they occur.

Dr Atkinson explained: "We are not saying 'never exclude', but 'do your very best not to and if you must, do so within the law'.

"Asking the parents of a disabled child to repeatedly take them home early simply due to a lack of support is unacceptable."

She stressed that most schools were doing well and following due processes on exclusions, but said that there was still room for concern and improvement and that everyone in education jobs has a duty to address this issue.

Back in February, survey findings published by the charity Contact a Family revealed that over 400 respondents had at some stage had to collect their child with SEN early from school or else been told to keep them at home without receiving an official exclusion letter.

Posted by Theo FouldsADNFCR-2164-ID-801578078-ADNFCR
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