AYM responds to a call for evidence on school exclusions from the Department for Education

The Department for Education has commissioned former children’s minister, Edward Timpson CBE, to undertake a review of children being excluded from school. The terms of reference for the review are here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-exclusions-review-terms-of-reference


The review team issued an initial call for evidence, and AYM has responded as follows:


“Our members work with children aged 10-17 who have come into contact with the criminal justice system. The principal aim of the system is to prevent offending by children and young people. We are pleased that you are undertaking this important review of exclusions, as this is a crime prevention issue and a safeguarding issue.


“We find a very large proportion of children in the justice system, possibly as high as 90%, have some form of special educational need. Typically, this is speech, language and communication difficulties combined with difficulties with managing emotions and behaviour. Unfortunately, these needs can lead to frustration and to poor behaviour in the classroom. All too frequently, there is a series of fixed term exclusions, permanent exclusions and changes of school. This causes difficulties and delay in undertaking the full assessment of special educational needs, as such assessments require the child to be in school.


“Exclusions prevent young people from receiving the specialist support services that they need. Excluded children are vulnerable to recruitment by criminal gangs of older teenagers, and we have heard a number of examples of this. Youth justice professionals frequently encounter young people who have been excluded so often that they have not been inside a classroom for two years. Often barely literate or numerate, they are ill equipped to move to further education and employment. Those who commit serious or persistent offences may find themselves sent to a secure children’s home. In this environment many children speak positively about the education they receive in small classes. They are a small minority.


“In our view, our education system has to do better with children who display challenging behaviour. Schools which place an emphasis on “inclusion” demonstrate that it is possible to teach these children successfully and they should be encouraged. Our Association has recently completed a two year project in partnership with the charity Achievement for All and Manchester Metropolitan University. This aimed to improve educational outcomes for young people in the youth justice system who have special educational needs. The project was funded by the Department for Education and the project’s findings have been sent to the Department. We believe you will find them to be relevant to the work of your review, and we would be happy to give further evidence in due course.”

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