Timpson: Judge schools on excluded pupil attendance

The man behind the school exclusions review warns there are ‘no cast-iron guarantees’ DfE will fund his recommendations

Edward Timpson giving evidence about his report on school exclusions to the Commons Education Select Committee

Schools could be held accountable for the attendance levels of pupils they exclude, the former Department for Education minister who carried out a landmark review of exclusions has suggested.

The Timpson Review, which was published in May, set out 30 recommendations to reform the exclusions system amid concerns about off-rolling and rising rates of permanent exclusions.

The DfE said it “agreed to all 30 recommendations in principle”, but Edward Timpson today told the Commons Education Select Committee that he had no “cast-iron guarantees” that the government would fund their implementation.


Quick read: Timpson Review at a glance

Exclusions: What the Timpson Review means for your school

Podcast: The Timpson Review of exclusions


His report recommended that the “DfE should make schools responsible for the children they exclude and accountable for their educational outcomes”, and the DfE has said it will launch a consultation on this in the autumn.

Tackling school exclusions

Today, Mr Timpson told MPs that excluded children are “those who are least likely to be able to demonstrate all or even most of their progress through a simple academic achievement measure”.

He suggested that the “softer side of progression” could be used in the new accountability mechanism.

He said: “For my part, I would be interested… [in] ways of trying to understand what progression the school has managed to engender during a period that they have been outside mainstream. Attendance would be an obvious one.

“I think that’s an area where it would be good to see some reflection of that softer side of progression but ones that actually are just as valuable to whether they are going to go on a different path in their life once they eventually leave education.”

The former children’s minister told MPs that there was “some wind in those sails”, but acknowledged the idea would face opposition in some quarters.

He added: “It is also really important it is done in a way which has credibility right across the system because there will be those who are very sceptical about that and there are some potentially unintended consequences attached to it, which in the past have played out.”

Mr Timpson said that academic achievement “still has to form part of any accountability system”.

MPs questioned him about whether the DfE had committed to fund the implementation of the recommendations in his report.

He told them: “Sadly I don’t have any cast-iron guarantees and I think we are all waiting to see what happens over the next few months in any event, but what I do know is that they are not – and these are people I know – these are not empty promises.”

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