August 2018

Ministers from the House of Commons Education Committee have published a highly critical report on the current exclusions system in England. 

In a report, ‘Forgotten children: alternative provision and the scandal of ever increasing exclusions’, the Education Committee said a lack of information and rights acted as “an obstacle to social justice and the educational ladder of opportunity”

IPSEA responded to the Education Committee’s enquiry on alternative provision last year. Many of the Committee’s findings chime with IPSEA’s own experience of advising parents of children and young people who are being failed by the use of exclusion which we highlighted in our submission. We welcome the Committee’s recommendations, particularly their call for legislation to be amended so that Independent Review Panels have the power to direct a school to reinstate a pupil, and for families to have access to an independent advocate when a pupil is excluded from school for more than five non-consecutive days in a school year. 

However, the report made no mention of the fact that children out of school often receive far less than full-time education, sometimes only a few hours a week. We consider this to be a missed opportunity. 

MPs expressed concern over the rise in the use of exclusion and found that there had been a significant increase in 'hidden exclusions' where children were internally isolated, or informally excluded, the latter being unlawful. The report states: “Parents and pupils face a system which isn’t designed for their needs, too often being left to a Wild West of exclusions with too many pupils in alternative provision who shouldn’t be there, and those who are there not receiving the right support or the early intervention needed to make a difference to their lives.” 

The Committee found that a rise in so called ‘zero-tolerance’ behaviour policies may mean that some pupils are excluded for incidents that could and should have been better managed. 

MP Robert Halfon, Chair of the Education Committee, said: "The young people who are excluded are the forgotten children. Many already face a host of challenges, with children in care, children in need, children with SEND, and children in poverty, being far more likely to end up in alternative provision. They deserve the best possible support but often they don’t get the education that they need to thrive.”