Alternatives to Exclusion from School by Professor Pamela Munn

By Professor Pamela Munn

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These studies attempt to identify the various aspects of schools which, taken together, make a difference. They include: • • • the physical environment being made welcoming and comfort­ able; pupils' work valued through regular displays which are updated regularly; positive teacher-pupil relationships incorporating high teacher expectations of pupils' academic and other achievements; Policy Matters • • • • 33 personal and social development given a high priority; homework set and marked regularly; active leadership and a shared vision of what the school is aim­ ing to do; pupil participation in decision-making about school and class­ room life.

The main measures to tackle permanent and fixed term exclusion from school are (Social Exclusion Unit, 1998): • • The setting up of national targets to reduce by one-third numbers of both fixed term and permanent exclusions from school by 2002. All pupils excluded from school for more than three weeks will Policy Matters • • • • • • 35 receive alternative full-time and appropriate education, supported by an individual learning plan which includes a target date for reintegration into mainstream schooling.

In addition, and in keeping with the current emphasis on work to minimise the risk of exclusion, LEAs must publish behaviour support plans, setting out arrangements for tackling pupils' behaviour and discipline problems. New money has been made available from the Excellence Fund for authorities to develop innovative and imagina­ tive alternatives to exclusion. This drive to reduce exclusion exists in a legislative context in which: • • • the headteacher of a maintained school may exclude a pupil from the school for a fixed period or permanently; the maximum permissible period of fixed term exclusion is 45 days and this maximum may be used in one term; the headteacher must inform the LEA and the governing body where the pupil would, as a result of any exclusion, be excluded 36 • • • Alternatives to Exclusion from School from school for a total of more than five school days in any one term, or lose an opportunity to take any public examination; or when the school excludes a pupil permanently; the school's governing body shall i) consider the circumstances in which a pupil was excluded and ii) consider any representation made to it by the excluded pupil or the parent/carer and by the LEA; where practical the governing body is to give a direction to the headteacher requiring the reinstatement of a pupil (this includes dates for reinstatement or permanent exclusion); the parent of a pupil who has been permanently excluded twice is an 'unfit person' and loses the right to choose the school his/her child will attend.

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