Increase in exclusions from school criticised

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The Independent Online
TOO MANY children are being excluded from school and often for trivial offences, the Office for Standards in Education said yesterday, writes Diana Hinds.

In a report on bad behaviour in schools, carried out in 10 local education authorities between 1990 and 1992, inspectors found a dramatic rise in exclusions in some authorities and a noticeable increase in exclusions of primary school pupils.

Even in the better-run schools, relatively minor examples of bad behaviour had a disruptive and wearing effect on teachers, the report said. Adequate support systems were not always available for teachers having difficulty keeping control.

An Ofsted spokesman said: 'More effort should be made to keep difficult pupils within mainstream education, rather than exclude them from school: this could be done by 'behaviour support' teams from the local authority working alongside classroom teachers.'

The 1986 Education Act replaced the disciplinary term 'suspension' with 'exclusion'. The most common form is 'fixed exclusion' from the school, usually for two to three days; the pupil may also be penalised by 'indefinite exclusion', remaining out of school pending further investigation, or 'permanent exclusion' (which Ofsted now recommends should be termed 'expulsion').

Local education authorities often provide 'exclusion units' for these pupils, but the Ofsted report says many of them follow a 'narrow and inappropriate' curriculum and accommodation and funding are often inadequate.

Education for Disaffected Pupils; Ofsted, DFE Publications Centre, PO Box 2193, London E15 2EU.