‘Unlawful’ school exclusions revealed

By Oliver Hotham

Hundreds of schools across England have been unlawfully disallowing children from attending school, it has been revealed today.

A report from the children's commisisoner found that schools had been taking children out of class or even transferring them to other schools without it being recorded and submitted for approval.

Every year 2.5% are given fixed term exclusions, but the report suggests that a great deal more are actually taking place.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said excluding badly behaved children was "a last resort", only to be used "to enforce non-negotiable school rules, to protect staff and students and to guarantee that excluded children get the support they need".

She continued: "Our policy on exclusions is the right one, and we will continue to support it. Obviously unofficial exclusions are unlawful. All schools must follow the legal exclusion process."

Labour said that unlawful exclusions would inevitable effects poor or minority children, who would not have the means to fight the practice, and that it represented an institutional failure.

The children's commissioner's report said that schools had conducted the practice to avoid scrutiny of their decisions and had denied parents the right to appeal.

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said: "There is something systematically wrong if schools are breaking the exclusions law in this way. This is often at the expense of poor, black or special needs children.

"The children's commissioner has done some of our most vulnerable children a service in exposing the 'ghosting' of pupils from school to school and unrecorded exclusions.

"The government and Ofsted need to take robust action to address her recommendations and ensure our schools do not fail challenging children."

Exclusions are considered very rare. They are usually only considered if a child has become a danger to him or herself or others, or is disrupting teaching.