Ban primary exclusions, and 5 more recommendations from ex-children’s tsar

Anne Longfield's Commission on Young Lives calls for end to 'exclusions culture'

Anne Longfield's Commission on Young Lives calls for end to 'exclusions culture'

Primary schools should be banned from excluding children and positive Ofsted ratings should be withheld from schools which are not “inclusive”, a former children’s commissioner has said.

A report from Anne Longfield’s Commission on Young Lives calls for an end to an “exclusions culture”, with the commission “horrified to hear how children as young as five have experienced multiple exclusions”.

It claimed the education system currently provides those who exploit children with “a conveyor belt of vulnerable teenagers”, with the government’s white paper and SEND review promising “welcome” reform but under-funded.

Here are six things recommended by the commission:

1. Ban primary exclusions

Exclusions of primary school-aged children should end by 2026, Longfield said, with schools supported with the “necessary resources” to achieve this aim.

The commission heard from a parent whose child had been suspended 17 times in reception alone.

Removal of secondary-aged children should also be a “genuine last resort”, only possible following a “programme of support”. It should also be signed off by the CEO of an academy or trust, or by a director of children’s services at local authority schools.

All state schools should also be required to report annually on the number of children who have been excluded or moved off a school’s roll, the report said.

2. Make ‘good’ Ofsted ratings hinge on inclusion

Commissioners want schools to “have high expectations for all children” alongside support for those who need it.

They are proposing Ofsted introducing a new “inclusion” metric as a “key” measure to inform ratings.

This would mean no school should achieve ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ if it is not “inclusive”.

3. Include wellbeing in league tables

School league tables should include an “agreed measure” of pupil wellbeing, alongside their exam results, the report says.

The long-awaited SEND review is suggesting publishing “contextual information” about a school alongside its results data.

4. Rename AP and PRUs

The report said alternative provision should be renamed “specialist provision” to support “struggling pupils to progress with their learning in school”.

The use of the term “pupil referral unit” should also be scrapped, the report added, though it did not propose an alternative.

The commission also suggested “specialist nurture programmes” to replace in-school AP for primary and secondary schools.

This could “prevent crisis and support children to remain and succeed in school, returning to their classroom as soon as possible”.

5. Tackle ‘adultification’ of black children

Ministers should work with school leaders and parents to “carefully consider how pedagogical approaches” can impact black children, the report says.

It should look at how “adultification” is “working in practice” as black children can be viewed as “both older and less innocent” than their white peers.

Race-equality training should be a “core aspect” of all teacher training.

It follows a safeguarding review published last month finding racism “was likely to have been an influencing factor” when deciding to undertake a strip search of Child Q in Hackney.

6. Mental health service in every school

Every school should have an “embedded mental health service”, the report said, which would “provide direct support” for pupils. It would also promote the “whole-school” wellbeing approach.

Government is introducing mental health support teams, but they will only reach 35 per cent of England by 2023.

Schools should also be part of the local child safeguarding partnerships, which should publish an annual “school inclusion and prevention plan” focused on children at risk of violence or crime, the report says.

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