A positive approach to preventing and managing exclusions: New guidance

In June 2017, the Scottish Government published guidance called Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2: A Positive Approach to Preventing and Managing School Exclusions. (This new guidance updates existing advice on managing exclusions published in 2011). The 2017 guidance provides a stronger focus on approaches that can be used to prevent exclusions.

Young boy thinking in classScottish Government figures show that exclusions from school are more common amongst certain groups of children and young people: those who are disabled, looked after, are from the most deprived areas or who have social, emotional or behavioural needs. For this reason, the new guidance sets out factors that schools must think about when they are considering excluding a child from one of these groups.

To help schools to do this, the new guidance introduces checklists that should be used to make sure that the right processes are followed and the right support is in place. They include considerations such as:

  • confirmation that the child or young person is not being excluded for reasons associated with disability
  • checking that appropriate arrangements are made for support, care and wellbeing at home
  • thinking about the impact the exclusion may have on the child’s learning and the support they receive
  • putting monitoring and review arrangements in place to ensure continued support for the pupil.
  • The guidance sets out the approach that schools and local authorities should use to try and reduce the need to exclude pupils from school. It also explains the processes that have to be followed when a child is excluded.

There are several parts of the new guidance that are useful to highlight. In particular, the guidance says that:

  • exclusion should only be used as a last resort
  • exclusions must be for as short a period as possible, with the aim of improving outcomes for the child or young person
  • the time during and after exclusion should be used to resolve the situation and make sure that the right support is in place
  • the wellbeing of the child or young person should be the key consideration when managing exclusions
  • schools must formally record all exclusions, and pupils must not be sent home on ‘informal exclusions’ or for a ‘cooling off period’
  • if a pupil is excluded on multiple occasions, this highlights that the support in place isn’t working and a different approach is needed.

Working with the school

If your child has been excluded, or is at risk of exclusion, it might be helpful to use the checklists in discussions with the school to make sure that your child has all the support they need.

Enquire’s Factsheet 11: Exclusion from school provides more information on what you can do if your child has been excluded.

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