Exclusions right and sometimes wrong

4th September 2009 at 01:00

The decision to exclude a child should never be taken lightly, but it is vital that heads have the option to do so when all else fails ("Should it be easier to exclude pupils?", August 28).

I agree with many comments made by (Tory education spokesman) Nick Gibb and (SEN government report author) Brian Lamb in the debate, but I think parents should have the right to appeal against exclusion. The key issue for schools is what happens after that.

If the decision to exclude has been overturned by the appeal panel, or even when a fixed-period exclusion ends, the child will usually return to their classroom to continue learning in an environment where, somewhere along the line, the teacher-pupil relationship has broken down. This can sometimes cause more problems than it solves, but what are the alternatives? Moving the child to another school may not help to address their behavioural issues or special needs, and sending them to a pupil referral unit is not always the answer.

In schools with on-site inclusion facilities, this is not a problem as children who are unable to return to their usual classrooms can continue their learning in a secure but familiar environment. Access to online learning, or live teaching online, ensures they will get access to quality teaching, and this is delivering some of the best results.

It is vital that the right support is put in place to help children at risk of falling off the rails to get back on track with their learning. The key to this is for schools to find the solution that works best for their staff and pupils.

Eileen Field, Headteacher, Accipio Learning, Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire.

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