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Friday, 10 November, 2000, 01:02 GMT
Excluded pupils in league tables
exam room
Empty desks will affect schools' results
This year's tables of English secondary schools' exam results reflect ministers' ban on "cosmetic" exclusions.

The effect is that if a school gets rid of a pupil - who therefore gets no GCSE exam passes at that school - he or she is still counted in the performance tables as having been present, depressing the overall result.


When you are thinking about excluding a pupil, the last thing on your mind is the position of your school in the performance tables

Head teachers' leader John Dunford
In all, 1,546 schools are affected - almost half the total. They expelled 3,006 pupils over the past two years.

A head teachers' leader has said it is ridiculous to think that any school would stoop to expelling someone to try to get a higher position in the league tables.

The other aspect of the change is designed to encourage schools to take in pupils expelled from elsewhere.

'Abuses'

Those which do so can count any exam passes the students achieve, but do not have to include them in their headcount - so boosting their overall result.

Just over 300 schools have taken in 371 of those who were expelled.

Ministers announced the change two years ago, but it comes into effect fully this year.

The then School Standards Minister, Stephen Byers, said: "Firm action will be taken to stop such abuses of the system.

"Exclusions in such circumstances damage the children concerned and deceive parents and the public."

The Department for Education and Employment says it will not be possible to tell from the tables being published next Thursday which schools are involved.

'Silly rule'

The general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, John Dunford, said ministers were sending out a mixed message.

In response to complaints about targets for reducing expulsions, they had told head teachers they definitely could expel violent or seriously disruptive children.

But they were then penalising them for using it in the performance tables, he said.

"Frankly, when you are thinking about excluding a pupil, the last thing on your mind is the position of your school in the performance tables," he said.

"I don't think there is a single school whose decision on an exclusion would have been affected by this silly rule and the sooner they revoke it the better."

Refugee children

Another change this year to the way the tables in England have been compiled, announced in June, is aimed primarily at refugee children.

Ministers agreed with schools that it was unfair for them to be judged on the results of children who had arrived recently from overseas and whose first language was not English.

Officials say 274 secondary schools applied for exemptions for 1,216 pupils. The highest number in any one school was 40, although most had far fewer.

This change will also be reflected in their local education authorities' averages - but not in the national results.

Education ministers believed they might have been accused of "cooking the books" to achieve their targets for improving test and exam results.

In primary schools, 654 applied for exemptions for 1,281 pupils.

Some schools chose not to take up the offer even though they could have done so.

The "cosmetic exclusions" policy does not apply to primary schools.

See also:

13 Jul 98 | Education
Ban on 'cosmetic' expulsions
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