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Monday, July 13, 1998 Published at 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK


Education

Ban on 'cosmetic' expulsions

Excluded pupils will be now counted in a school's exam statistics

Schools in England are to be be prevented from improving their league table performances by expelling problem children.

The government is proposing that pupils who are excluded from lessons should continue to be counted as a member of the school when exam scores are published each winter.

The new rules would apply to children who were expelled within two years of the date they were due to sit their GCSEs.

Such a move could deflate the exam ranking of a school which expelled large numbers of pupils who consequently did not take any qualifications.

The School Standards Minister, Stephen Byers, said there was widespread concern that some schools were expelling pupils in order to improve the school's position in the performance tables.

Abuses

"In adopting such an approach, schools not only damage the future prospects of the individual excluded but also mislead parents and the public about the quality of education being provided at the school in question," he 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.

"We believe that our proposal strikes the right balance between the correct use of exclusion to defend the interests of the majority of children from disruption, and the protection of the individual who on occasion can be the innocent victim of the abuse of the power of exclusion by a school."

Mr Byers heads the ministerial task force on truancy and school exclusions, which has set a target of reducing expulsions from school by one third.

Latest statistics show that 12,700 children were expelled from school in England during 1996/97, a rise of 200 on the previous year.

'Arm-twisting'

A teachers' union leader who has campaigned for the rights of his members to refuse to teach disruptive children said they would not be impressed by "crude arm-twisting" on the issue.

Nigel de Gruchy, General Secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, said: "I do not believe this will persuade schools to hold off excluding children who threaten the safety of teachers, or the safety and educational achievement of other pupils.

"Keeping these pupils on the school roll after they have been excluded might depress league table positions. But keeping them in school might well depress it even more.

"This union will continue to support members refusing to teach children on the merits of each case."





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Internet Links

Social Exclusion Unit - truancy and school exclusion report

Department for Education and Employment

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