AMENDED regulations (2006) require the total of fixed term exclusions for five or fewer days must be reported to the governing body and to Kirklees LA on a termly basis.
Exclusions must also be consistent with a school behaviour policy and each must be thoroughly investigated, and decisions must not be made in the 'heat of the moment'. In some way or other, every decision to exclude a young person from school can be considered by those responsible for the inclusiveness of a school.
It must be assumed that it is possible for a head teacher – the only person in a school who can sanction an exclusion – to find the time to conduct 23 investigations, and thoroughly consider each instance – a blanket approach may not be adopted.
Recent changes in the law have focused on finding alternatives to exclusion, and ensuring young people have an appropriate voice during the process. Equally, they stress the importance of pupils being clear about what is expected of them.
A school that suddenly excludes 23 pupils in a week for reportedly low-level breaches of a behaviour policy has adopted an approach that was bound to hit the headlines; it is to be hoped that no one was seeking to make a point.
A new broom sweeps clean approach using exclusion is practise that will provoke controversy and rightly so: It would be right to ask to what degree the new approach was announced prior to being implemented?
As a rule I subscribe to the maxim – we must trust the Head, the Governors and Staff who actually know the school.
If however, a school seeks to provoke this debate, it is reasonable to comment that it is not just parents who will be concerned – there is no consensus of opinion about how an inclusive school can use exclusion – it is an area that many of us struggle with.
Within the guidelines, each school must find its own direction. The idea that exclusion can be used to conduct 'a purge' places this debate in a disturbing context; one that I hope be will fully debated in the coming months. Reviewing behaviour policies is a complex task, and debate helps to ensure everyone is clear about the nature of school that the Governors are seeking to create.
Episodes like this challenge our assumptions – that is good. Practise in schools is an evolution and the Head Teacher has certainly succeeded in ensuring that a whole community is thinking about what our expectations of both our schools and our young people at school are.
A Kirklees Parent