Allowing pupils to attend school only between 4pm and 6pm, once their classmates have left, is a form of “unofficial exclusion”, the head of a special needs charity has said.
Adam Boddison, chief executive of Nasen, said the lack of scrutiny and accountability around the practice – dubbed "twilighting" – “concerns him greatly”.
And while some people argue that it is a way of providing education for pupils who would otherwise be excluded, he wants to see an end to such separation.
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He said: “I can see why some schools would believe they are supporting learners by putting twilighting arrangements in place, but the truth is it is unofficial exclusion rather than a genuine form of alternative provision.
“It is not right that these learners are separated from their peers and only allowed into school after the end of the school day. Twilighting arrangements do not have the same rights of appeal for parents as an official exclusion, so there is limited opportunity for scrutiny and accountability from governors, which concerns me greatly.”
A Twitter poll, which was conducted through the Nasen account, found that of the 1,045 reponses, 6 per cent felt twilighting was a form of inclusion, 17 per cent felt it was a form of exclusion and 77 per cent had not heard of it.
'Twilighting' is when learners are only allowed to come to school between 4pm and 6pm. Have you heard of 'twilighting' and is it inclusion or exclusion? @nasen_org— Prof Adam Boddison (@AdamBoddison) May 22, 2019
Some respondents were not keen on twilighting.
Heard of it, & not impressed. Who is with the children during the day? Our excluded children are often the most vulnerable members of society, remove their day time provision & we drop them straight in the lap of danger & for SEN pupils..is "support" available during twilghts?— SENDCO Solutions (SENsible SENCO - FCCT) (@SendcoSolutions) May 22, 2019
Work in inclusion and re-engagement and sadly I see this practice far to frequently in a couple of the schools I work with. Naturally all this does is alienate the young person completely and usually supplies the school with enough reason to off roll the student.— Mike Elkins (@MikeElkins86) May 22, 2019
But others said it could help keep learners in school.
It’s not a punishment.... 🤔 it can be very helpful for ASD students overwhelmed by a new school— Bonita Holland (Bonny) (@snowdropbooks) May 23, 2019
I have spoken to children about this. For some it means they can 'cope' and go to school due to smaller classes and more support (not from a teacher). Not a long term solution though.— SENCO Blog (@BlogSenco) May 23, 2019
Yes, I have experienced this practice being used as a short term strategy in both primary and secondary PRU's. It was used positively as a re-integration strategy when all other options had broken down and the student was in danger of being hurt or hurting others.— Ask The Senco (@askthesenco) May 25, 2019
Mr Boddison said: “My view is that the social aspect of school is equally as important as the educational content and twilighting denies learners their right to socialise with their peers at breaktimes.”
“If an alternative timetable is needed, I see no reason why this should not be accommodated during the school day.
“This Twitter poll suggests that twilighting is not happening everywhere, but however small this issue is, it needs to get smaller still.”