Increasing Inclusion: Making the Case for Preventing Primary School Exclusions 

We believe there is an urgent need to tackle primary school exclusions and we recommend that the government commits to preventing exclusions at primary school. We believe this can be achieved by working with schools and other services to strengthen early intervention support to children and families to help prevent the risk of exclusion.

Chance UK provides early intervention support to children age 5-13 and their families to help them develop social and emotional skills, to build resilience in a changing world. The charity has been providing intensive support to children across a number of London boroughs for over 25 years.

In the Autumn 2019/20 term almost 30,000 primary school aged children received a suspension and just under 500 children were permanently excluded.

Although school exclusion has been the subject of various reviews, the focus has largely been on secondary schools because of the greater numbers of exclusions. However, in the Autumn 2019/20 term (the last term before Covid) suspensions (previously called fixed-term exclusions) at primary school increased by 21%, compared to a 12% rise at secondary school. During the same period, permanent exclusions increased by 20% at primary school compared to 3% at secondary school.

In our own direct work with children, 1 in 7 of the young people we worked with last year had experienced either a suspension or permanent exclusion at primary school.

“When my son was in reception, he was excluded 17 times and that wasn’t including the unauthorised ‘you need to come pick up your son’ times… If I didn’t get a call by 10am I knew I could eat my breakfast.”

Parent

With the government’s current focus on reviewing the Behaviour in Schools and Exclusions guidance, along with the publication of the SEND Review Green Paper and Schools White Paper, we believe that there is an opportunity to review and reshape support for children who are at risk of exclusion.

This briefing will explore primary school exclusions in more detail, setting out why exclusions at primary school level are a problem, some of the key issues that we believe are leading to increasing numbers of primary school exclusions and how children can be better supported to prevent exclusion.

‘It would be much easier to exclude than to do all the work that the school is doing, but the children are worth the effort. We really need these young people to know that we are not scared of their pain, and when trauma is expressed as anger, we can deal with it. Because if we can’t, how can we expect them to?”

Assistant Head for Inclusion, Henry Fawcett Primary School, Lambeth

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