Closing the door on exclusion

28th August 1998 at 01:00
NO Scottish authority has been pilloried, as Manchester has, for "losing" pupils through not providing for them after exclusion from school. But everywhere there is an uneasy relationship between the obligation on local authorities to offer education and the power they have to remove it from the intransigent or the truanting. Fortunately, the Scottish Office instituted a positive programme emphasising attendance rather than absence. It has proved a powerful stimulus to authorities and schools to come up with ideas which will improve behaviour and discipline and so reduce the need for exclusions.

At one level East Renfrewshire has tackled the problem across three secondaries serving disadvantaged areas (page three). It has looked specifically at the most difficult pupils, and in a pilot Scottish Office project has offered extra support, not just to pupils themselves but to the teachers whose lives were no doubt easier when such pupils were excluded.

A single-school project at Hawick High (page 13) is less focused on the worst cases and is broader in sweep. Pupils - and their parents - have had to maintain a "home-school partnership card" emphasising the importance of uninterrupted learning. It shows the school's expectations. Some pupils will always find difficulty in meeting them, but clarity and consistency go a long way to obviating the need for later catch-up rescue initiatives.

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