A blanket ban on exclusions would undermine headteachers' responsibilities to their community, a union leader warned today.
Speaking after the Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate in London, Siobhan Benita, pledged to ban exclusions in mainstream London schools, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said that headteachers needed to retain the sanction.
“As a headteacher, you have a responsibility both to your pupils and their parents,” he said.
“You owe it to parents and young people to have certain lines you cannot cross.”
He pointed out that it would be detrimental not to exclude a pupil who had committed a violent assault, including for the pupil themselves.
A ban on school exclusions?
“The way schools have to work is you have to have certain rules and certain sanctions. This was reaffirmed in the Timpson review [into exclusions].”
He said the proposals had an element of “worthy political rhetoric”.
Although he agreed that “permanent exclusions are not always in the best interests of the child” and said there was a need for “properly resourced preventative work” to avoid more permanent exclusions.
“There needs to be more money for staff to work with children at risk in smaller groups.”
Ms Benita made the pledge in a speech to the party’s Bournemouth conference yesterday.
She said that if she were elected mayor in 2020, she would ensure that no child was permanently excluded from a mainstream school in the capital.
“No child in my London will be permanently excluded from mainstream schools,” she said as she introduced her “feel safe, be safe” plan for Londoners.
Ms Benita also said she would establish a “happy hour” for children after school where schools, churches and sports clubs will provide safe spaces and enjoyable activities so that not a single child is vulnerable to crime after school.”
And she said she would campaign for a statutory youth service as mayor.