Exclusion: What the students think

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The Independent Online
Rashad Ahmed, 18, is studying for a BTEC in computing at Havering College in Hornchurch, Essex, while working part-time in a shop in Canary Wharf. He worries that an earlier exclusion "for smacking this geezer in the mouth" may jeopardise his chances of finishing the course.

"He was calling me names and punching me. He was getting on my nerves, so I hit him. I would have been prepared to sit down with him and work it out, but both of us were excluded for fighting - he wasn't allowed back. I just sat at home and did my assignments. I got more done that way, but it's boring at home. I'd rather have worked in the classroom.

"I was used as an example. My current course leader thinks I'm trouble. I think he wants to kick me out. I'm not normally a bad boy. My classmates think I'm a trouble--maker. I tried harder to be good when I got back, but you can't help being yourself. What I did was stupid, but all this is unfair. If I was a teacher, I'd counsel pupils one on one and see how they progressed, help them get along. I've since met the boy I hit and we just started talking, we sorted it out. It's a shame that didn't happen sooner."

Jonathan Lyle, 16, who was excluded six or seven times while he was at secondary school, agrees that teachers need to develop a different relationship with their pupils if exclusions are going to be cut. He now works as an accounts assistant at Barclays Bank in central London.

"I started getting excluded in the first year at secondary school for something like fighting. It degenerated from there because I got a bad name for myself. Although I consistently achieved good results, teachers took every opportunity to knock me down.

"Being excluded didn't change my behaviour at all, it just turned me off education. Why do you think I left school at 16 to work?"

Names have been changed.

Report by Children's Express, a programme of learning through journalism for children aged 8 to 18.