In early May, Edward Timpson has published his recommendations on school exclusions in his Timpson Review.
The review made a number of recommendations, however it did not reference the link between bullying and exclusions:
- Closer working between schools and alternative provision (AP) before children are excluded. Especially using AP as teaching schools and looking at school funding to allow them to engage with AP/expert help before exclusions.
- Improve the workforce and quality of APs
- Renaming Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) to improve how they are seen. Those of you with long enough memories will remember in 2009 when the Labour government changed PRUs to be called Short Stay Schools (ironically this change didn't last long)
- Extending equality and diversity hubs
- Improving the way schools work with health and social care
Addressing perverse incentives to exclude:
- By consulting on the potential to make schools accountable for the educational outcomes of those who are excluded
- Improving quality of Ofsted inspections so they recognise those dealing with exclusions appropriately.
- Training for governors and trustees to ensure they can challenge school action
- Review the way DfE collects data about reasons for exclusions
- Consult about how education is provided to those who are excluded multiple times
- School census should monitor how schools use AP
- Local authorities should better track pupil movement
- Updating regulations to ensure that social workers are notified when a child in need is excluded
- Update guidance to make it clearer and link it to other policies (unfortunately it did not mention anti-bullying policies)
- Better training and support for school staff including weaving into ITT and ensuring good quality SENCos and the coming mental health leads
The government has responded and said that it will make the following changes:
- Will launch a consultation in Autumn on how to deliver these recommendations especially around accountability and 'off-rolling'
- Establishing a 'practice programme' about how schools, LAs and APs can work better together
- Re-write the exclusions guidance by Summer 2020
- Extend support for APs
- Work with Ofsted to improve inspections
- Call on LAs/Schools and governing bodies to review the information they collect about exclusions
ABA responded to the initial call for evidence, you can read the response below. We made 5 requests:
- Schools should consider whether or not a child who has shown aggressive and / or bullying behaviour have experienced bullying themselves before they are excluded
- School should have exhausted alternative responses to stop bullying of a child before they resort to exclusions unless others are at serious risk of harm
- Bullying should not be seen in isolation and the group dynamic should always be considered
- We would like to see the links between bullying and exclusions for children who bully, bully-victims (i.e. those who both bully and are bullied), and those who are bullied more explicitly stated in both the exclusions guidance and the anti-bullying guidance
- We would like to see the guidance state that schools should continue to investigate bullying of children even when they are on fixed term or permanent exclusions
You can see how NCB (where ABA is based) has responded to this here. They have also written a legal fact sheet with IPSEA and ASCL about what constitutes legal and illegal exclusions.