‘Excluding children doesn’t solve the issue it just removes it from the classroom’ – readers react to increase in Portsmouth secondary school exclusions

THE NEWS this week revealed that last term there was a 45 per cent increase in incidents of exclusion across the city’s secondary schools compared to the same period last year.

Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 2:29 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 2:31 pm
Castle View Academy Portsmouth had 200 exclusions last term.
Castle View Academy Portsmouth had 200 exclusions last term.

Head teachers excluded 289 pupils from schools across Portsmouth on 633 separate occasions in the run-up to the Christmas break. Castle View Academy, formerly King Richard School, was responsible for almost a third of these exclusions with a total of 82 students excluded on 200 separate occasions. With rising concerns over the welfare of these students it is an issue which has certainly generated heated debate amongst readers. Here is a flavour of what people said.

COMMENT – In my sixteen years working in schools there was undoubtedly a disproportionate amount of time and resources spent by teaching staff in dealing with a small number of disengaged students. Ninety per cent of lesson removals and school exclusions were generally accounted for by around five per cent of the school population.

There was little doubt that when certain students were not present the learning environment could be far more conducive to effective learning for remaining majority.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In relation to lesson exclusion, I have also seen the system abused with colleagues removing certain individuals for low level indiscretions on the premise that they will go on to disrupt the lesson.

In the midst of a lesson being disrupted it is often difficult to see beyond the behaviour that student is exhibiting. However in the vast majority of cases there were often serious underlying reasons in that student’s personal circumstances which rendered my geography lesson to not necessarily be at the top of their priorities.

With an ethos of inclusivity, schools are now dealing with an increasing number of children with more complex needs at a time when there is an ever diminishing pool of resources to do so. There is also the argument that, under the increased scrutiny of a target driven education system, the pressure on teachers to attain outcomes could compromise their capacity to continually manage children with behavioural difficulties in the classroom.

That having been said, I have never met a head teacher who has not worked to the mantra of ‘exclusions are a last resort’. This makes the continued trend even more of a concern.