Stats not entirely right
In your article about the views expressed by Jackie Brock and Alan McKenzie on the exclusion from school of looked-after children ("To exclude or not exclude, that is the question", 9 November), the reference to statistics was incorrect in one aspect. The number you attributed to "pupils" (32,776 in 2010-11) should have been labelled "instances" of exclusion. Some pupils are excluded on a number of occasions.
Mr McKenzie, SSTA general secretary, is quoted as saying that looked-after and accommodated children "seem impossible to exclude". This assertion is not supported by the statistics. The rate of instances of exclusion for all pupils reduced from 60 to 40 per 1,000 pupils in the past five years, while in the same period the rate for looked-after children fell from 339 to 326 per 1,000.
While the lower average attendance and higher rate of exclusion among looked-after children is a cause for concern, many looked-after children are good attenders and behave well in school. In fact, children who are "accommodated" in foster care have average attendance rates, mirroring those of all Scottish pupils. Attendance is, however, lower among children accommodated in residential homes.
The major cause for concern (in relation to attendance and exclusion) is with those looked-after children who are not in accommodation provided by local authorities. Last year there were 1,265 instances of exclusion among pupils supervised at home or with other relatives, compared with 351 and 296 instances respectively among those in foster and residential care.
Readers interested in the considered reflections of practitioners on school exclusion will find a helpful account in the recent report of the Pupil Inclusion Network Scotland, available at www.bit.ly10lJuJN
Graham Connelly, Strategic research and qualifying courses manager, Centre for excellence for looked after children in Scotland, University of Strathclyde.