Excluding pupils is not the best answer

28th April 1995 at 01:00
As you so rightly say, it is a "few too many" children who are being failed (TES, April 21), and not only in the schools that are named as failing but also the pupils being excluded in ever larger numbers from all our schools.

It was therefore with alarm that we read that the new head of HammersmithPhoenix school's first proposed action; to exclude a number of pupils permanently, in a school which reportedly already has a high number of exclusions.

Doubtless this is viewed as a short-term measure "to get things under control" - though it might be considered rather a matter of attempting to move the symptom to someone else's doorstep rather than seeking to resolve the problem.

For these young people will have to be picked up, either by another school or more likely, through some form of home tuition scheme - though the part-time education which is offered to most permanently excluded secondary pupils these days could hardly be considered as meeting their needs.

Nor does it address the sense of humiliation and failure that most of these pupils feel, as illustrated in your article from a home tutor. Indeed we have considerable anecdotal evidence that a significant number of pupils excluded around the age of 14 just drop out of education altogether. At present, the ability of some parents and schools to pick and choose leaves a few schools and too many parents and children with untenable, even terminal problems. It is not in the interest of schools to identify and try to meet the needs of difficult children. It is easier to pass them on.

Last Friday's TES pointed up very clearly the dilemma faced by schools, their governors, and in the end everyone. Market forces are reinforcing failure by encouraging us to decant our problems.

MARGARET JONES

School governor

The Institution for School and College Governors

Avondale Park School

Sirdar Road

London W11

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