School exclusions hit ‘disadvantaged children’
Camden Council to probe link between knife crime and children being told not to come to school
12 March, 2019 — By Tom Foot
Dr Carol Homden, pictured during her work with Coram’s
THE chief executive of a leading children’s charity said she welcomed the New Journal’s focus on the consequences of school exclusions on already “disadvantaged children”.
Coram’s Dr Carol Homden CBE said the issue affected both parents and pupils, and the charity’s investigations had raised concerns about “students not being treated consistently”. She spoke about her own personal experience of coping with the process.
Dr Homden told the New Journal: “The issue of school exclusion is one close to my heart. I have experience myself of having an autistic child excluded from school, which has made me all too aware that parents are often left feeling alone and suffering acute stress.”
Camden Council has launched an inquiry into potential links between high exclusion rates and knife crime. Statistics show that one in 10 pupils at Camden’s state secondary schools were excluded, temporarily, in 2016/17. The council says the most recent figures are declining and it is running special projects in primary schools to help pupils who might face exclusion at secondary school level.
Last week, the Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield warned of the worryingly high figures in Camden and across the country.
Dr Homden said an upcoming report from the charity would make a series of recommendations about how “we can turn those figures around”.
She said: “I welcome the Camden New Journal’s focus on the impact on our community of school exclusion and its consequences for the life chances of disadvantaged children. This is an issue that goes far beyond Camden, with permanent exclusions now on the rise nationwide. This is a worrying reversal of the longer-term downward trend. We found that pupils generally had a good knowledge of behaviour expectations but knew little about exclusion policy unless directly affected.”
She added: “We found that pupils are often unsure about the fairness of exclusion – while generally they saw exclusions as fair when school rules were broken, they also had concerns about students not being treated consistently. Both pupils and parents reported that schools did not always work with pupils to seek alternatives to exclusion.”
Anyone in Camden affected by the issue of exclusion can contact Coram Children’s Legal Centre for free advice.