SNJ Note: It’s important to understand views that don’t necessarily align with your own. If you disagree with the views in this post please do comment on the blog post comments.
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.
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]
9. Sign the Kill the Bill statement to join the fight against secure schools and carceral expansion
- Ban exclusions during the pandemic, MPs told (Runnymede Trust, Tes, October 2020)
- ‘Stop school exclusions’, says DfE’s Mental Health Tsar (Dr Alex George, Tes, March 2021)
- Reachable moments: Honouring the life of Jaden Moodie (The Face, April 2021)
- The time to end school exclusions is now (NME, The Voice, April 2021)
- Locking up children in the name of charity is yet another reason why we must Kill the Bill (The Canary, April 2021)
- Campaigners call for a temporary ban on exclusions (CYP NOW, May 2021)
- Ayah’s experience (May 2020)
- Kadeem (25): A personal reflection on the education system, exclusion, and working with ‘No More Exclusions’ (May 2020)
- UK Gov, 2019: Timpson Review of School Exclusion
- Oxford, Excluded Lives: School Exclusion Risks after COVID-19
- Runnymede Trust: Race and Racism in English Secondary Schools
- Institute of Race Relations: How Black Working-Class Youth are Criminalised and Excluded in the English School System
- Centre for Research in Race and Education (CRRE): Evidence on the Exclusion of Black Caribbean and Mixed: White/Black Caribbean Students
- No Police in Schools campaign: Decriminalise the Classroom
- Spoken Word #1: An Introduction (No More Exclusions, feat. Nirad, Kadeem & Lana)
- Requires improvement: No More Exclusions, Understanding Abolition (feat. Lana Crosbie)
- Surviving Society: CARE & BEA legal challenge against the new government PSHE curriculum guidance
- Surviving Society: Racism and Police in Schools (feat. Roxy Legane)
- Resist Renew: Abolishing Prisons in the UK (feat. Kelsey from CAPE)
- Department for Miseducation (all episodes, see thread)
- Becoming an Anti-Racist: Decolonizing the Curriculum - In conversation with Pran Patel (all episodes available via this link)
- The British Library: Stella Dadzie on her involvement in the campaigns against "sin bins"
For parents / carers:
- No More Exclusions: Help for parents and carers if your child is facing exclusion
- No More Exclusions: FAQs on Abolition and School Exclusions
- Just for Kids Law: Quick Guide: Exclusions and COVID-19
- The Black Child Agenda: Exclusions: Information for England
- ALLFIE: Being Seen, Being Heard: Resource for Voice, Rights and Empowerment of Disabled Children and Young People
- Child Law Advice: Complaints to Academy Schools
For teachers / educators
- Teachers 4 Social Justice
- The Black Curriculum: Learning Resources
- Learning for Justice: Classroom Resources
- Project NIA: Educational Resources
- Guide for Racial Justice & Abolitionist Social and Emotional Learning (Abolitionist Teaching Network)
- Why black girls are targeted for punishment at school – and how to change that (Monique W. Morris, TEDWomen, 2018)
- Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom (bell hooks, 1994)
- Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Paulo Freire, 1970
- The Exclusions Review tries hard but falls short of a fix
- Is Excluded being Expelled? The DfE is sneaking in outdated language, hoping it’ll catch on
- Is there meaningful accountability for illegal exclusions?
- Exclusions 2018: Children with SEND six times more likely to be excluded
- Against Human Rights: Landmark ruling against school exclusion for behaviour related to autism
- What’s a PRU to you? Busting the myths about alternative provision
- The Government must act on legal ruling against discrimination of disabled children
- We won a legal point on unlawful exclusion and cleared my disabled son’s name
- Shocking rise in autistic pupils being excluded from England’s schools
- School Exclusions: Statemented children 9 times more likely to be excluded (2012)
- Why there needs to be a moratorium on school exclusion - June 11, 2021
- Book Review: Diary of a Dyslexic School Kid* - February 25, 2020
- Racial discrimination and SEND: Why was I accused of harm? - January 31, 2020