Earlier this year, the Education Policy Institute published an article on the large number of vulnerable children being excluded from schools. The statistics are striking: pupils eligible for and claiming free school meals (FSM) are four times more likely to experience permanent or fixed-period exclusions and black Caribbean pupils are three times more likely to be permanently excluded compared with white British pupils. In her launch speech for Ofsted’s annual report, Amanda Spielman highlighted the ongoing disproportionate exclusion – either formally or through pressure on parents – of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), who account for almost half of all permanent and fixed exclusions.
Reports of a rise in unofficial exclusions are concerning: last year, 6,685 children were officially permanently excluded, yet 48,000 were registered in some form of alternative provision, and an additional unknown number (estimated to be in the tens of thousands) disappeared from school rolls. Given the long-standing inequities in official exclusions, we should be asking serious questions about how certain groups of children may be being informally marginalised from mainstream provision.