EDUCATION and welfare agencies trying to prevent pupils being excluded from school need to work across their professional barriers more effectively if they are to be successful, a research study published this week states.
The report, Hanging On In There, also calls for joined-up policies at national level. There are said to be tensions between arrangements for pupils with behaviour problems and those for children with special needs and how these relate to exclusion. There are differences, too, in the way schools, social welfare organisations and the juvenile justice system deal with young people's right to participate in decisions.
The report is based on an investigation of inter-agency working in six schools in three education authorities, backed by detailed interviews with 22 young people aged between 12 and 15 who had been excluded or were at risk of being excluded.
The authors, Gwynedd Lloyd and Joan Stead of Edinburgh University and Professor Andrew Kendrick of Strathclyde University, found there were a range of strategies but not all were effective.
They say that the best practice comes when professionals combine "a warm, informal, non-judgmental style with clearly structured aims and evaluation of programmes".
The report concludes "Most professionals made the point that a few pupils required a level of 'high maintenance' in school. Supporting the pupils with complex and multiple difficulties was not easy and seemed to be a matter of 'hanging on in there', of keeping trying and not giving up."
Opinion, page 23