They’re not to blame when a disruptive student is ordered to leave school. Quite the opposite. The reasons for such bad behaviour are invariably varied and complex – and this sanction is only implemented as a last resort and to ensure that the education of more studious pupils does not suffer.
Yet, while the review undertaken by Edward Timpson, a former Children’s Minister, has confirmed that there are a disproportionate number of exclusions at a small number of schools, the more fundamental question is what more can be done to improve classroom discipline.
As the report concludes, the practice of ‘off-rolling’ – where under-performing pupils are removed from schools before their continuing presence can have a detrimental impact on league table ratings and so on – must end, not least because of the safety risks if they’re just left to roam the streets without supervision. “Exclusion from school should never mean exclusion from education,” says Mr Timpson.
He also makes a profound point when he says the Government – and education sector – have a duty to equip school leaders “with the skills and capacity” to handle troublesome youngsters when financial pressures are forcing some heads to make staff redundant. This support will cost money – a point that Mr Hinds has repeatedly failed to recognise. And, given the threat of exclusion is an important deterrent when it comes to enforcing school rules, there needs to be clarity on the Government’s expectations when a pupil’s behaviour becomes totally unacceptable. What then? It is a question that the Minister still needs to answer if Brexit allows him.