Can a new technique stem England’s rising tide of school exclusions?

The Guardian reports that a Gloucestershire academy is bucking the national trend by offering disruptive pupils and their teachers an alternative.

A girl is studying quietly at a desk just outside the headteacher’s office at Gloucester academy. “Hi Freya, everything all right?” Ian Frost, the head, asks as he passes.

Freya, 16, a year 11 student, has been having what she describes as “a bad week” and was disruptive in class. Now she’s in isolation for a day, but Frost has decided he wants to oversee her work rather than putting her in a room with other pupils who have been excluded from lessons.

“Mr Frost is a really understanding person,” says Freya, who’s been invited into his office to talk about how pupils’ behaviour has changed at Gloucester academy over the past two years.

Over the past two years, primary exclusions in Gloucestershire have risen by 63%, with 31 under-11s (0.06%) in the county being expelled for good (the average for England is 0.02%). Secondary exclusion rates in the county are up 47% in the same period, with one secondary excluding nine students last year.

Frost has introduced “restore” sessions: every time a disruptive student is asked to leave the classroom, the pupil and the teacher involved meet at the end of that school day to discuss the problem and try to find a way through the difficulty. It develops maturity in the pupil, says Frost, and requires open-heartedness from the teacher. 

Freya adds: “They’re a good thing really. You learn to understand [the teacher’s] perspective. I will apologise to my teacher, and I know he understands the problems I have.”

Persistent disruptive behaviour accounted for 1,900 permanent exclusions in 2014–15. Pupils with special educational needs are seven times more likely to be excluded.

Read more Can a new technique stem England’s rising tide of school exclusions?

Why are exclusions on the rise? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter ~ Tamsin

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