Why there needs to be a moratorium on school exclusion

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Today’s post is a call for action about something very close to my heart - exclusions.

No More Exclusions is a UK grassroots coalition of over 140 teachers, teaching assistants, trade unionists, social workers, lawyers, youth workers, faith leaders, local councillors, journalists, academics, education researchers, SEND specialists, mental health practitioners, parent advocates, parents and young people. 

We, at Special Needs Jungle, believe it's time to do things differently to support children at risk of exclusion, particularly now, as we try to recover from the devastation that the pandemic has wrought to the education of our young people. We've said before that behaviour is communication. We, as a society, must do more to understand and support every child, not just those who find sticking to the rules easy.

We must lift everyone up and ensure that no one is abandoned by the education system. We must break the vicious cycle of exclusions, youth offending, and young people - especially from disadvantaged or racially diverse backgrounds - being written-off before they finish their teenage years.

No More Exclusions has written this article for us today, asking you to support its campaign for a moratorium on school exclusions.

Let's stop exclusions now! By campaign group, No More Exclusions

No More Exclusions represents a broad range of people and organisations. We focus on racial justice and free, quality, inclusive education for all in education. Our work is about addressing institutional racism, negative stereotyping and low teacher expectations, as well as the wider structures and practices that create the context within which school exclusions exist. 

In the Autumn of 2020, the NME Volunteer Research Team issued Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to schools and academies across England, with the goal of uncovering why, how often and against whom exclusions were and are being issued in the context of the global pandemic. 

Our research found that exclusions occurred extensively prior to lockdown, and continued to occur as soon as pupils returned to school in September 2020. Overall, an astounding 13,268 exclusions were issued between September 2019 and November 2020; this is even more concerning when one considers that this was across just 34 secondary schools and 39 primary schools

Exclusions damage young lives

Exclusions are detrimental to children’s education, wellbeing and socio-emotional development. It is cause for concern that exclusions are being used at all, let alone amidst a global pandemic. Considering pupils’ anxiety, loss, bereavement, poverty, and digital inequality are only being exacerbated as the pandemic continues, our findings are particularly worrying. They indicate that exclusions are being used to address or at least manage these additional pressures. Moreover, when concern over “lost learning” is so high, it is inexcusable that schools should continue to deliberately remove children from education.

After months of disrupted learning, isolation, fear, and disappointment, children deserve the security of knowing that they will not be suddenly ejected from their education and school support networks. This is vital for every child, but especially marginalised children, who are often the ones most in need of support, but are also most likely to be excluded from their support systems.

A moratorium on school exclusions is the first step to ensuring that all pupils have access to the wellbeing and educational support they need, showing them that their lives matter and that their education is valued.

Overall, an astounding 13,268 exclusions were issued between September 2019 and November 2020; this is even more concerning when one considers that this was across just 34 secondary schools and 39 primary schools.

What does No More Exclusions mean?

No More Exclusions means: 

  • No More Injustices 
  • No More Unheard Voices
  • No More Unfulfilled Dreams
  • No More Trauma

WE'RE NOT ACCEPTING IT ANYMORE (words taken from this video by Kadeem)

Why we need a moratorium…

  • Read NME’s letter to the Secretary of State for Education (Sept 2020), here 
  • Read our report on ‘School Exclusions during the Pandemic’ (March 2020), here 
  • Watch the video presentation on the findings of our research, here
  • Watch educators and community members explaining why they support the moratorium, here 

What can you do to help?

1. Read and share NME’s report on school exclusions during the pandemic

2. Write to your MP asking them to support our moratorium [use this template]

3. Write to your local authority [use this template]

4. Submit a question to the Department for Education using this online form [and attach NME’s report!]

5. Write to your child's school explaining how zero-tolerance behaviour policies negatively impact your child and family

6. Apply to be a School Governor and take steps to end exclusions within your local school and Education Authority

7. Make your own mini video (like these) telling us why you support the moratorium and share on social media [use the hashtags #SupportOurMoratorium #NoMoreExclusions]

8. Support the Jaden Moodie Foundation and sign their petition to halt exclusions

9. Sign the Kill the Bill statement to join the fight against secure schools and carceral expansion

10. Follow NME on Twitter and/or Instagram, and subscribe to our newsletter for updates!

Further resources:






For parents / carers:

For teachers / educators

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Marguerite Haye

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