Heads 'are fiddling figures' on school exclusions

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Headteachers are under such pressure from the Government to cut the number of exclusions that they are fiddling the figures, according to new research.

Headteachers are under such pressure from the Government to cut the number of exclusions that they are fiddling the figures, according to new research.

Teenagers are being encouraged to stay away from school, sometimes permanently, said researchers from Leicester University who carried out the Government-funded study. Schools, they say, are condoning "long-term truancy" for some who are in their GCSE year.

More heads and parents are agreeing that pupils should be "unofficially" excluded and listed as sick so that they do not feature in the exclusion records.

Ministers have set targets for all local authorities to cut exclusions and schools that exclude large numbers of pupils face criticism from inspectors.

The researchers from the Centre for Citizenship Studies in Education who interviewed heads, governors, officials and welfare workers in six local education authorities say that some schools argue that unofficial exclusion is in pupils' best interests because they escape the stigma which is attached to the formal process.

But Audrey Osler, Rob Watling and Hugh Busher challenge their view. They argue that unofficial exclusion leaves pupils without the right of appeal and their families without support. They are particularly worried about those in their last year of compulsory schooling who may be unofficially expelled so that they lose the chance to take GCSE exams. Appeal panels have to take into account whether pupils are due to take exams.

Their report says: "This practice, we believe, constitutes a significant problem in a number of schools and is one which urgently needs to be addressed.

"Unofficial permanent exclusions may also operate particularly for some pupils in the final year of secondary school. These amount to long-term truancy which is encouraged and condoned by the school."

Comments