School exclusions and managing ‘challenging behaviour’ – Government action
UK Government actions
- In July 2020, the Department for Education (DfE) published guidance on the re-opening of mainstream schools and Alternative Provision, as well as special schools and other specialist settings following school closures in the early stages of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The guidance makes clear that schools should avoid permanently excluding pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan, or looked-after children.
- In February 2020, the DfE launched a £10 million ‘behaviour hub’ programme to enable schools to improve behaviour management. However, this was delayed to spring 2021.
- In September 2019, Ofsted’s updated education inspection framework came into effect. The framework made clear that ‘off-rolling’ (the process of removing pupils from the school roll without a formal exclusion and primarily in the interests of the school rather than the learner) is unacceptable in any form.
- In June 2019, the DfE published non-statutory guidance on reducing the need for restraint and restrictive interventions in health and social care services and special education settings. The guidance focuses on children with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions, who are at greater risk of interventions. In 2019 the DfE held a public consultation on whether there is a need for similar guidance in mainstream and Alternative Provision settings, and whether it should apply to a wider cohort of pupils with special educational needs. A response is yet to be published.
- In May 2019, the Timpson review of school exclusions was published. The review was commissioned in 2018 to consider why some groups of children are more likely to be excluded than others, including children from particular ethnic groups. Since then, the DfE has committed to updating and reviewing relevant school policies and guidance, including on behaviour and exclusions, and to reform in relation to Alternative Provision.
- In March 2018, Ofsted published guidance for inspectors about evaluating the use, type and recording of restrictive practices during inspections of schools and social care settings.
Welsh Government actions
Education is devolved to the Welsh Government.
- In October 2020, the Welsh Government published guidance on supporting vulnerable learners. The guidance advises schools to avoid exclusions and states that new regulations are being prepared.
- In September 2020, the Welsh Government published guidance, which allowed for meetings concerning school exclusions to be held remotely, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
- In April 2020, the Welsh Government published guidance for children’s social services on the continued provision of support during the coronavirus pandemic, including for children who attend education other than at school (EOTAS) provision. This guidance was updated in January 2021.
- Between October 2019 and January 2020, the Welsh Government held a public consultation on proposals to reduce the use of restrictive practices in a number of settings including education. The consultation documents include advice on recording restraint and a definition of restraint that considers human rights implications.
- In November 2019, the Welsh Government updated its guidance on exclusions and appeal procedures for both mainstream schools and pupil referral units (PRUs). The guidance makes clear the obligations of local authorities and educational providers under the Equality Act 2010 and international human rights treaties, namely the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- In September 2019, the Welsh Government updated its framework for action to improve the provision of EOTAS, particularly PRUs. The framework includes a commitment to analyse pupil registrations and exclusions data.
The assessment was made based on the evidence available up to 18/03/2021