ASCL reaction to report by Anne Longfield’s Commission on Young Lives

Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the publication of the third thematic report by the Commission on Young Lives calling for an end to ‘exclusions culture’.
“We welcome this important report from Anne Longfield’s Commission on Young Lives and we fully support the drive towards a new era of inclusive education. While the power to exclude a student is a necessary last resort to protect the safety and wellbeing of other students and staff, it is very clear we must do everything possible to defuse problems which lead to challenging behaviour and keep young people in school.
“This is already a top priority for the vast majority of schools. They monitor and scrutinise exclusions very carefully. But they have to do this in a context of extremely tight budgets which restrict their capacity to provide pastoral and specialist support, and against a background of severe cuts to local authority support services.
“It is also the case that school performance tables prioritise academic attainment rather than how well a school provides an inclusive environment.
“All this must change. The government must ensure that schools have the resources they need to keep children in school and to provide targeted support to enable every child to thrive, and performance tables must change to give a more complete picture of a school rather than focusing on academic achievement alone. We have set out our own proposals to achieve these objectives in our Blueprint for a Fairer Education System.
“These are the building blocks that are needed to achieve the objective set out in the report of an inclusive, supportive culture for all children in all schools, with a vastly reduced number of school exclusions and extensive and targeted support for the small number of pupils for whom a school move is the right approach. What is required from the government is a clear vision, a plan and sufficient levels of funding to make this possible.”