‘They go the extra mile’

The children’s commissioner for England, Maggie Atkinson, has today published a report on reducing inequality in school exclusions, particularly those connected with issues of disability, ethnicity and race, gender, and poverty.

‘It is uncontestably the case,’ she writes, ‘that some schools do a fantastic job at narrowing the exclusions and attainment gaps between different groups of pupils. This report looks at what makes these schools so effective, and what can be done to share what they do more widely.’

She adds: ‘We have found that the most important single thing a school can do is realise that some children need more support than others in school … The best schools do this instinctively because they realise that this is core to their job, rather than an “optional extra”. They also do not view it as giving “special treatment” to “difficult” children. As one headteacher told us, “We don’t do this because we are nice people – although we are. We do it because kids who feel part of the school learn better.” Crucially, they are willing to provide all support necessary, rather than expecting the child to do all of the changing.

‘If only one part of this report leads to lasting change in the education system, I hope it is this one.’

The report points out that the Equality Act 2010 is extremely relevant for reducing inequalities in exclusions from schools, but mentions there is widespread ignorance amongst teachers about their legal duties. It makes recommendations not only to schools but also to the Department for Education (DfE), the Teaching Agency and Ofsted. Formal responses from these three bodies are required by law.

They Go The Extra Mile – reducing inequality in school exclusions can be downloaded from
http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/publications/content_654

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