Initially billed as a fundamental review, the report disappointed those who hoped to reduce knife crime by ending exclusion and keeping susceptible young people in ‘schools as day detention centres’.
The report supports the principle of exclusion. However, those who want to use exclusion to clear the decks for school improvement should ‘weigh the profound implications that (exclusion) can have on a young person’s life.’
A multi-agency approach is expected. The DfE should collate, and make known, best practice in managed moves and exercise oversight on the use of AP through the school census. Local authorities (LAs) should have a clear role in reviewing when pupils are moved out of schools, where they go to and why. They should take action where necessary and ensure that children are receiving suitable education at their destination. Ofsted should look for patterns in children leaving schools; and off-rolling ‘in all but exceptional cases’ should result in an ‘Inadequate’ judgement in Leadership and Management. There should be a review of whether children moving to ‘home education’ should have a ‘right to return’ period and more safeguards and scrutiny should be exercised. Social services must be notified when a child is moved out of a school and be involved in the process. Data on exclusions and other moves should regularly be shared with LSCBs (in future, Safeguarding Partners).
- Other recommendations
The DfE should set an expectation that schools and LAs should work together, clarifying their role as advocates for vulnerable children. LAs should convene ‘meaningful local forums that all schools are expected to attend’ to review and plan.
- Training and diversity
There should be ‘well-evidenced, meaningful and accessible’ training and support for school leaders and the diversity of senior teams should be increased to help combat the disproportionate representation of some groups in exclusion statistics. ‘Substantive training’ in dealing with difficult children should be part of teacher training and the Early Career Framework. Training available to SENCO’s and senior leads should be reviewed, with an emphasis on attachment disorder and trauma and their effects. ‘Review’ for Timpson means action. The DfE must provide a Practice Improvement Fund of ‘sufficient value, longevity and reach’. Funding is a recurrent feature of the Report.
- Alternative Provision
Alternative Provision (AP) must be promoted by the DfE; which should ensure that it provides an attractive career option, with the best providers recognised as training schools. AP buildings and facilities need to be improved.
The government must invest in multi-disciplinary, cross-Department teams based around schools. It should design clear roles for schools in supporting excluded children and give schools control over more funding for this. The timing and amounts of funding adjustments for excluded pupils should be reviewed.
Ofsted should recognise schools for using exclusion appropriately and succeeding in supporting pupils. LAs should provide information and support for the parents of excluded pupils and identify patterns, concerns, and gaps in provision. The DfE should collect, and publish, the figures for previously looked-after children who are excluded.
Fixed-term exclusions should be examined. Limits on the annual total of fixed term exclusions per pupil may need to be revised.
Data on exclusions and other moves should regularly be shared with LSCBs (in future, Safeguarding Partners).
- Response from Government
The Government’s response is shorter. It has set up a consultation on how to make schools accountable for excluded pupils which may be the most significant practical outcome. They will set up a practice programme; rewrite guidance by Summer 2020; and ‘call on’ partners to achieve a shared understanding on the data. Ofsted have been charged with developing a definition of off-rolling. Funding is notable by its limitation.
Although this Review has disappointing little bite after such a long wait for its publication, its themes, if developed, may have a significant influence in the long term. In particular, the role of local partnership and oversight (LA, LSCB/SPs) may be influential.