Following a recent Education Committee evidence hearing on the link between knife crime and school exclusions, Chair of the Committee Robert Halfon, has written to Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, setting out concerns about the approach of schools to exclusions and the poor quality of alternative provision for excluded pupils.
The letter follows up on the recommendations of the Committee's Forgotten children: alternative provision and the scandal of ever-increasing exclusions report, published in July. The correspondence highlights a number of areas of concern including early intervention and inclusion, inconsistency of schools’ approaches to knife crime and improving the quality of alternative provision.
It acknowledges that robust behaviour policies are important but that far more needs to be done, with teachers given the right training to identify and address the complex personal challenges that are associated with exclusions and knife crime.
The letter also highlights the role of police in engaging with pupils and the need to give local authorities more power to monitor the approach of schools to exclusions.
Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
"Our evidence session once again highlighted the risks faced by youngsters not in mainstream education of being caught up in violence and drawn into crime. We must do much more to intervene early to stem the flow of school exclusions and address the human tragedy that underpins the cases of so many children. As Carlie Thomas from the St Giles Trust put it, "there are a lot of tell-tale signs before they have got to the point of carrying a knife or being excluded from school".
Exclusion should always only ever be a last resort and the Department needs to give local authorities more power to scrutinise the approach of schools. Where children are excluded from school, we are concerned that the Department is not moving quickly enough to ensure that they continue to receive a high-quality education. The Government needs to properly fund good alternative provision. No pupil deserves to be forgotten and alternative settings should not be a graveyard for human potential."
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