Moratorium on School Exclusions

No More Exclusions

A new grassroots coalition movement in Education

 

Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP

Secretary of State for Education
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

Wednesday 2nd September, 2020

Dear Secretary of State for Education,

We, along with No More Exclusions, call on the Government for a moratorium on school exclusions over the next academic year to give children returning to school time to adjust to the ‘new normal’ and catch up on the education they’ve missed as a result of the current public health crisis.

As organisations and people with a vested interest in children, young people and education, we are very concerned about how the return to school, after months of lockdown and ever-changing messaging on daily living, will impact children.

We appreciate the challenges for government and schools in ensuring schools reopen safely to enable children to resume their learning. These are indeed unprecedented times which, as we have seen over the last six months, call for unprecedented measures. We strongly urge the government to recognise and embrace the need for a different approach to school exclusions, especially given the exceptional circumstances.

The government is well aware of the impact of the pandemic on children and young people’s mental health, well-being, education and ultimately their future. Returning to school will help mitigate some of the foreseeable impact but will inevitably present new and difficult challenges, uncertainty and confusion, especially as schools continue to grapple with how to manage reopening effectively and safely.

The evidence is clear that children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds bear the brunt of national decisions on managing the pandemic. They have been failed because they do not have access to technology to participate in virtual education, despite government pledges that all children would have access to a computer. They have been failed because schools have been inconsistent in delivering education during lockdown. They have been failed by the impact on the economy. They have been failed because local authorities’ duties to vulnerable children and young people were diluted; the SEND duties being one example, the disproportionate rate of Black children experiencing  school exclusion for decades being another. Many will continue to be failed by the system, the exams results fiasco is testament to how disadvantaged and marginalised children and young people are systematically failed.

We believe the range of new measures introduced in schools will feed into punitive behaviour policies which will ultimately lead to an increase in exclusions. It will be those in state-funded schools who will be most affected by these changes, in the same way they were with exam results. It is illogical to say it is a moral imperative that children return to school while putting them at greater risk of being excluded from school because of new rules and regulations.

Children and young people, particularly within the groups statistically at greatest risk of fixed term and permanent exclusion, will once again be failed by the system if the government does not act now. We do not believe that relying on schools to do the right thing by complying with the ‘last resort’ principle in exclusion decisions is sufficient. Many in education know this is not the reality, particularly for schools with zero tolerance behaviour policies.

We are constantly told we are living in unprecedented times. The pandemic has caused us all to think and act differently. We have had to adjust to fast changing guidance and regulations which impact our lives significantly with daily, sometimes hourly, changes that are often confusing and bewildering.

It’s difficult enough for adults to understand what is expected of them at any given time, let alone young people and children, yet they are subjected to the same restrictions and sanctions as adults.

Schools across the country have rightly raised serious and valid concerns about how they will resume educating pupils come the start of term. How will they implement social distancing for large numbers of children (often in already overcrowded spaces)? Should children wear face coverings in communal spaces? How will they manage social bubbles in unstructured periods? How will they keep children apart? This is all supposedly underpinned by a need to keep children and schools staff safe. These are all issues that will feed into behaviour policies and ultimately be used to sanction pupils through isolation and/or exclusion.

We are deeply concerned that head teachers and staff will be less than tolerant towards breaches of behaviour policies, possibly through their own fears or more likely lack of understanding about what hey can and cannot do at any given time. Uncertainty will lead to inconsistency and inconsistency leads to the inertia that ensures the systemic failure of the young people in our care. We need a clear government mandate that schools cannot exclude children and instead support children to avoid exclusion. This way children will not be affected adversely by either inconsistency or uncertainty on the part of schools and will get the support they need to make the best of education. Don’t wait for the backlash before being forced to U-turn, do what you know to be right from the outset.

We therefore strongly urge the government to suspend the exclusions guidance using emergency powers as was the case in other areas of education. Alternatively, we call on the government to make it unlawful for headteachers to exclude children for breaches of rules introduced around the pandemic.

Now is the time for the government to show that education really does matter and that children and young people should be in school learning and enjoying the experience. The moral imperative should not only be that children return to school but also that they stay in school to catch up on time lost over the last six months.

This is why we call for a suspension on exclusions.

We look forward to seeing the immediate change to exclusions guidance to outlaw exclusions during our suggested moratorium and details of the measures and resources to be put in place to support children to stay in schools. As a collective, we would also welcome the opportunity to inform these developments further. In anticipation, No More Exclusions, along with a coalition of over 200 people including Youth representatives and organisations, Parents/Carers and Family, Educators, Academics, Race Equality, Anti-Oppression, Social Justice and Abolitionist Organisations, Groups and Activists, Writers, Legal Professionals, Healthcare workers, Politicians and members of the general public. All names of signatories to date are listed at the end of this letter.

Please reply to:

No More Exclusions

E mail: mailto:nomoreexclusions2020@gmail.com
Twitter: @NExclusions
Instagram: No.More.Exclusions
Website: www.nomoreexclusions.com

Correspondence Address: No More Exclusions C/o Race Equality Foundation, Unit 17 Deane House Studios, 27 Greenwood Place, London, NW5 1LB

Signatories of this open letter as of 12pm on Wednesday 2nd September 2020:

Youth:

Ahmed Yassin Claremont Youth Project

Aislinn Evans youth worker

Ayah Ali Sixth form student

Bilaal Student

Elaine Donnellon Community worker Stop The Bleed Camden

Luke Billingham Hackney Quest

Mohammad Asghar Student

Oroma Wogboroma Researcher on children and young people

Raoul Dero Youth advocate…

Tatum Donnellon Community youth volunteer

Zeinab Adam Student

Parents/Carers/Family:

Cheri Mackay Mother

Ade Banjoko Director Parents Action and Resource Centre

Angela Palmer Parent

Caroline Hillier Parent

Caryl Gruar Parent of SEN child

Cassie Beaumont Autistic parent of autistic child

Cerianne Reeder Parent

Claire Moss Parent

D Butt parent

Dahlia Knight Grandparent

Emma Bill Parent

Itahisa Alvarez Gordon Mother and TA

Joyce Hylton Parent

Julia Jones Parent

Lisa Jay Parent

Lynn Gibson Parent / Labour Party / Unite

Mary Carson Parent

Michael Ellinson Parent

Mohammed Nafeel Father

Mr Qamar Uldin Parent

NICHOLINE CREARY Parent

Rachel Rodgers Parent

Ranna McArdle Grandparent

Rebecca Wood Parent

Samantha kilshaw Parent

Sidnie Parent

Sophie hill Mother

Venessa Bobb Founder A2ndvoice

Wayne Shallis Parent

Kylie Parent

Education Professionals – Includes teaching staff, school staff, governors, educational

psychologists and educational practiotioners:

A Khemchand PE Teacher

Abigail Miranda educational psychologist

Alasdair Smith Teacher

Angela Henry Teacher

Anji McAnuff Teacher

Anna Case Teacher / St Mary’s Menston

Anthony Egbinola Teacher

Audrey Litchmore Shooters hill 6th Form College

Ayaan Bulale Open School East

B.Hillman Teacher

Bianca Williams Teacher

Chrissa Wadlow Sunshine Support

Cleo Lewis Assistant Head Teacher

Dalian Adofo Educational Consultant

Debbie Mather Teacher, mother to asd chold

Delroy Lead Practitioner St Martin in the Fields academy

Denise Henry Teacher and union activist

Eleanor Linsley Teacher & NEU School Rep

Esther Wakelin-Stotten Teacher

Fay Allen NEU/ TEACHER/ BRIXTON

Gillian Hart Retired teacher

Hadda Levy Teacher

Hannah Baynton Trainee Educational Psychologist

Ivy Scott Teacher

J Fubey Teacher

Jack Park Primary Teacher, Dovedale Primary School, Liverpool

J Alexander Teacher

Jessica Hirani Secondary school teacher

Joshua Moses Education Advocate

Karen Parny Teacher

Kelly Pawlyn Governor Camden School for Girls

Kelly Pawlyn Governor Camden School for Girls

Kevin Murphy Safeguarding lead

Khadijah Teacher

Kwame Ocloo Executive Director- Youth Learning Network Ltd

Laury Ntoko Director of MFL/ Harris Academy South Norwood

Melissa Hind Teacher

Mical Nelken

Teacher of English and EAL Coordinator, La Sainte Union Catholic

School, Camden London

Naomi Tobias Teacher

Natasha Johnson Director Go Digit All

Nazmia Jamal Teacher

Raheem Mu Khepera MBE Prime Unltd

Ro Henry-Grant Teacher

Sally Jones SEND Practitioner

Sarah Cox Retired teacher

Sarah Louise Horobin Maths Teacher, DCG

Sharon McKenzie Croydon supplementary School

Sherene Meir Adult Educator, Gateshead Council

Shirley Green Teacher (Primary)

Simon Murch Teacher, National Education Union

Tania Tirraoro Special Needs Jungle Ltd

Thomas Keep T.A

Tom Foxall Teacher

Tom Oberst Teacher

Tony Hamlet Teaching assistant

Viviene Royal TLG South Birmingham

Viviene Royal TLG South Birmingham

Ziggy Moore Moore Education

Dr Heather Geddes

Teacher and Educational Psychotherapist – now retired (Associated

with the Caspari Foundation)

Janet Matthews Weardale Branch Chair, North West Durham CLP and retired teacher

Academia Professionals:

Dr Adam Elliott-Cooper Research Associate in Sociology, University of Greenwich

Dr Karen Graham Senior Lecturer in Education, Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Sofia Mason

Royal Holloway, University of London (UCU Branch

Committee/Personal Capacity)

Dr Sol Gamsu Assistant Professor in Sociology of Education

Dr. Kirsty Morrin Lecturer, University of Liverpool

Gargi Bhattacharyya Professor of Sociology

Greg Ryan Senior Lecturer in Social Work

Helen Knowler Lecturer University of Exeter

Helen Knowler Lecturer University of Exeter

Jeff Knowler Retired University Technician

Karis Campion University of Manchester

Laura Quick Education Researcher, UCL

Laura Quick Education Researcher, UCL

Malcolm RIchards University of Exeter

Maymana Arefin UCL

Remi Joseph-Salisbury University of Manchester

Rhiannon Lockley

Birmingham City University – Foundation Year Lecturer & UCU Branch

Secretary

Riadh Ghemmour PhD candidate, University of Exeter

Rob Smith Birmingham City University

Sean Wyer PhD Student

Tom Cowan UCL

Race Equality – including for Young People and in Education

Ife Thompson Founder BLAM UK

Jabeer Butt Chief Executive, Race Equality Foundation

Jamie Schearer-Udeh Anti-Racism Consultant

Josina Calliste Land in Our Names

Kunle Olulode Director Voice4Change England

Zita Holbourne BAME Lawyers for Justice

Black Educators Alliance Black Educators Alliance (BEA)

Black Educators Alliance Black Educators Alliance (BEA)

Daniel Johnson Haltth Exclusions.

Kadeem Marshall-Oxley No More Exclusions

Nirad Abrol No More Exclusions

Roxy Legane Director, Kids of Colour

Zahra Bei No More Exclusions Co-Founder

nas nova Tribe Named Athari

Anti-Oppression, Social Justice and Abolition Organisations and Activists

Jodie Beck Co founder, Our Empty Chair

Kelsey Mohamed Cradle Community

Mo Mansfield Abolitionist Futures

Lani Parker Sisters of Frida Director

Minda Burgos-Lukes Social Justice & Anti-Oppression Organiser & Consultant

Sarah Mann Director, Friends, Families and Travellers

Dom Hunter The Class Work Project

Freedom Zampaladus The Urban Equestrian Academy

Freedom Zampaladus The Urban Equestrian Academy

Kahiye Alim Director Council of Somali Organisations

Robina Qureshi Positive Action in Housing

Trade Unionists

Andrea Gilbert BAME Officer TEFL Workers Union

Anita Conradi Local Officer Wandsworth NEU

Anna Wolmuth Islington NEU branch

Daniel Kebede Senior Vice President – National Education Union

Duncan Morrison Branch Secretary, Lewisham NEU

Ellen Graubart Unite Community

Ewa Jasiewicz Union Organiser

James Kerr Lewisham NEU President

Lucy Cox National Education Union

Marian Mayer Bournemouth University Co-chair UCU

Paul Phillips NEU rep

Tyrone Falls Bristol NEU (International Solidarity Officer)

Vik Chechi-Ribeiro NEU MANCHESTER vice president

Yvonne Hardman LGBT+ Organising Forum Member National Education Union

Healthcare Professionals

Alia Butt Psychotherapist NHS

Lyn Boyd Mental Health North East

Martin Murray Paramedic

Nigel Frost Mental health / support worker

Rachel Ambrose Registered Mental Health Nurse (CAMHS)

Saffya Fatima Counsellor and Psychotherapist

Shelby-Jayne Bolton NHS support worker

Yemi Lipede Psychotherapist

Legal Professionals:

Alex Temple Education Solicitor

Michael Etienne Barrister

Writers and Media

Chris Alston Author

Ilyas Nagdee Writer and activist

Terry Ellis Author | Forward Trust Ambassador

Syed Joshim Ali Guardian

Politicians

Anamul Islam Councillor, Forest Gate North

Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP Member of Parliament for Streatham

John McDonnell Member of Parliament

General Public Members

Ada Peter Nwike TiA Group

Alaa’a Ashkar Relations Communicator

Alexander Richards Director

Andrea Saunders

Angeline Hargreaves

Anna Torvaldsen

Bee Lindeboom

Ben Ovio ENDIP International Development LTD.

Bridget Dunne

Carel Buxton

Carlos Soto Barnet Momentum (in personal capacity)

Carolyn Storer

Cath Attlee

Cathy Kelly

Chris Bagley

Claire Clews

Claudine Duherry Service manager

Daniel Lewis Financial Controller

Dave Gurman

Erin Cunningham

Evon Renny

Fahima ahad

Farhaana Arefin

Gillie Evans

Humza Hanif Student

Ivana mackinnon

J colling Supporter

Jade Forbes

Jamal Natour M.D. Fumasoftware LTD.

Jeff Knowler Self employed

Kay Stephens

Leila Cass-Darweish

Llewellyn Radley

Madhia Farooq

Maire Verrall

Margaret De Leon Supporter

Marlon kameka

Matthew Jones

Michelle Mann Catering assistant

Moira Gomes Retired

Nichola Morris Local Government Officer

Patrick Brady Concerned citizen

Robert Larkins Citizen

Saleh Mamon Researcher

Sameer taneja Technical advisor

Sumayyah E. Ibrahim

Tina McKay

Usama Javed

Zaleera Wallace HAIRDRESSER

Andrew Director