Minister open to holding schools to account for results of excluded pupils

Nick Gibb also agrees that pupils with SEND need more support to prevent their exclusion, and says the DfE is looking at continuing more alternative provision to the age of 18

Martin George

Schools minister Nick Gibb

Schools minister Nick Gibb has outlined a number of possible measures to address the rising number of children being excluded from schools.

The minister today gave evidence to the Commons Education Select Committee’s ongoing inquiry into alternative provision.

Committee chairman Robert Halfon asked Mr Gibb whether schools should be held “at least partially accountable for the future outcomes of the pupils they exclude”.

Mr Gibb responded:  “I think there is a case for that.”

He said that an exclusions review from 2012 to 2014 had examined this idea, and he expected Edward Timpson’s current review of school exclusions to consider it.

Holding schools accountable

Mr Gibb said the review had found that “there were fewer exclusions when you track back the results and the school was held accountable for those results, but what you didn’t see was any increase in attainment of those pupils”.

The idea had been included in Nicky Morgan’s White Paper, but was dropped when the document as a whole was abandoned.

Mr Gibb also defended Progress 8 following suggestions that it gives schools an incentive to exclude the worst-performing pupils, but highlighted work the Department for Education is currently doing on the effect of the results of outlying pupils on a school’s Progress 8 score.

Mr Gibb also suggested the DfE will look at giving councils a duty to provide alternative provision to the age of 18, rather than the current 16.

He said that currently 49 settings provide alternative provision to the age of 18.

Mr Gibb was repeatedly questioned on whether funding pressures on schools were driving the rise in permanent exclusions.

Although he repeatedly avoided saying whether financial problems were leading schools to exclude pupils, he agreed with Labour MP Emma Hardy that SEND children in schools need more support so that they do not end up being excluded.

Mr Halfon pressed the minister on whether some schools were excluding pupils because it was cheaper than providing them with the pastoral care they needed, but Mr Gibb did not respond directly.

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