Investigate high exclusion rates, says children's tsar

Anne Longfield calls on Department for Education to probe '10% of schools responsible for 88% of exclusions'

John Roberts

Anne Longfield, exclusions, children's commissioner

The children’s commissioner has called on the Department for Education to investigate the 10 per cent of schools responsible for the majority of the country’s exclusions.

Anne Longfield told Tes that the department should look to understand what is happening in schools with higher exclusion rates.

She was speaking after appearing at the Hallam Festival of Education in Sheffield yesterday.

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Ms Longfield said: “I want the DfE to investigate the 10 per cent of schools responsible for the 88 per cent of exclusions.

“There is a school roll number and the DfE have that data.

"I would like the DfE to investigate what is going on with those schools because I get lots of reports from councils and parents who will all say we know it's this chain or we know it's happening there.

"We have the most dreadful examples sent to us – even with schools with manuals of how to do it.

“That is one of the things the department needs to do. That is what I would do if I was them I would want to look at that 10 per cent."

Ms Longfield also said that she wanted Ofsted to be bold and to come down heavily on schools off-rolling.

Earlier this week she told MPs that schools across the country suspected of off-rolling pupils would be named by her office in a national report.

She told MPs that her office had conducted a survey of children leaving school to go into home education in 11 areas.

Now her office is repeating this on a national scale.

Speaking to Tes, she said: “We didn’t name the schools last time because we had chosen to look at this issue in 11 areas and it wouldn’t be right. 

“But we did supply the information to Ofsted and asked them to look into it. But because it was so stark we decided to go back and we have done this exercise nationally.

“We asked the councils in the 11 areas for the numbers in each school who had left to go in into home education and literally when you went down the list of schools you would see zero, zero, zero, one, zero and then large numbers like 15, 19. It was so obvious that something is going on.”

Yesterday, schools minister Lord Agnew said that the debate about the use of isolation rooms and exclusions risked being “hijacked” by people seeking to fight “ideological battles”.

Lord Agnew said that the education debate was “marred by emotive argument” and that policy was “entangled in ideological wrangling”.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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