Bridge over troubled exclusion issue

9th October 2009 at 01:00

Since I was quoted in your article on managed moves ("Ministers' boasts on fall in exclusions is challenged", September 25), I would like to set the record straight.

You stated correctly that the Department for Children, Schools and Families has commissioned no research into managed moves, nor provided appropriate levels of advice given the number taking place.

But my other comments have been misrepresented. Managed moves help students find a route to success in learning. Permanent exclusions act retrospectively, punishing the pupil but providing no forward plan. If all permanent exclusions were replaced by managed moves, that would be a great thing.

Our conference in London on November 12 is not about "fining schools if they expel students". Yes, we think schools should have more say over alternative education budgets. They should be able to choose between the cost of managing a challenging pupil in school and managing their needs off-site.

As a head myself, I would stress that this is not about schools "being forced to pay it back if they expel". We do not want exclusions panels to have "more powers". We want heads to work together to ensure responsibility is shared, fairly and transparently. This kind of inclusion is more sophisticated than unworkable ideas about every child staying in the classroom no matter what. We can summarise the approach - community-based inclusion - in 12 words: "Broaden the schools, build the bridges and find a place for every child."

A "broader" school is one that can manage a greater range of educational and social needs. The "bridges" are managed moves, governed by a community protocol shared by schools and agencies. Finding "a place for every child" is the aspiration and the greatest challenge for schools.

Choosing five of the 242 heads' comments from Inaura's 2007 research could never be representative. Heads' comments reflected the need for a community approach governed by transparency, fairness and equity. Honesty and trust between heads was repeatedly mentioned as essential. And heads want more support, training and guidance.

Where arrangements were governed by agreed inter-school protocols, they were more positive, and vice versa. The message is clear; hence the need for this conference.

www.canterbury.ac.ukeducationconferences

Adam Abdelnoor, Chief executive, Inaura, the inclusion charity, Somerset (www.inaura.net).

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