exclusions, Happy in School, Timposon Review

Suzy Rowland, Channel 5 News: Timpson Review on Exclusions

A good indicator of an inclusive school or successful whole school approach to SEND is surely the degree to children with SEN are excluded or repeatedly excluded from school. Like incarceration, there appears to be a high likelihood of a repeat exclusion if a school has decided to make the decision to exclude once. The seal is broken, the die is cast.

Parents and school staff can, of course, turn the situation around post exclusion, and the more time that elapses after the child or young person moves away from the exclusion, the more likely they are to get into a new groove. But there are lots of factors that need to be in place to ensure that the child has a successful re-introduction to school, especially after a fixed term exclusion (these are detailed in my forthcoming book). But in a nutshell, there must be:

  1. a concerted effort on behalf of the teaching staff to understand the deeper reasons for the child’s behaviour to deteriorate significantly for an exclusion to be the only course of action left.
  2. a concerted effort of the child and their parent/carers to work collaboratively with the school, to support the child to enable them to behave within an acceptable framework of the school’s behaviour policy.

Working with children with specific difficulties creates additional issues for schools to address – ranging from investigating a diagnosis, creating specific education plans, ensuring the right support if required – all of which can be time-consuming. But if there is genuine commitment from all parties, the time and effort can turn a potentially hopeless situation around. Isn’t that something working for? It is here, at the apex of effort, angst, investment and hard work, where inclusion bursts forth not as a buzz word to strive for, but a march for equality and opportunity to improve the young person’s life-chances and well-being. Sometimes the young person or even their family, can’t see that far ahead, sometimes the exclusion is the start of a complex diagnosis process. Neither scenarios are a breeze, but still worth being a teacher and parent for, eh?

What’s your experience of exclusion?

Parents:

When was your child first excluded?

Did you have further exclusions?

Does your child have autism or ADHD? (a hidden disability)

Was your child diagnosed after an exclusion?

Did the situation at school improve after your child’s exclusion?

Do you feel the exclusion was fare?

Is your child Black Caribbean?

Headteachers:

Is pupil’s behaviour generally improved after exclusion?

How important is parent involvement and co-operation, when the fixed period is over?

Is exclusion is sign of school failure to enforce boundaries or the child’s failure to adhere to the school’s policy?

Do you feel that putting exclusions in a league table is helpful for current or prospective parents? or just another piece of admin?

Would access to greater funding help you support children with specific issues within school, therefore avoiding the need for exclusion?

Polarising opinions are rarely useful, especially in education, what are your thoughts on a solution to reduce a generation of children from specific backgrounds or with special educational needs being wiped out of the education system?

 

© Suzy Rowland

 

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Education, SEND, Autism, ADHD, hidden disability, Suzy Rowland, Happy in School

Reviews, Exclude, Recycle

Tuesday, saw the publication of the Timpson Review on exclusions. As I was replying to emails in my PJs on Tuesday morning, I got an email from Channel 5 News, no less, asking me to comment on the review. After a brief telephone chat with news editor, they decided to do a face-to-face interview at my house. Eeek, I got dressed, made up and tidied the house in record time! The interview went out on Channel 5 news to co-incide with the report’s publication.

Aside from me sharing my story, it’s a story that’s all too relatable. Even though the soundbite is that ‘exclusion from school shouldn’t mean exclusion from education,’ for many thousands of children and young people and their families, especially from the Black Caribbean community, that’s exactly what it does mean!

Here’s the video, my segment’s right at the beginning. Do tell me what you think of the piece.

Suzy Rowland on Channel 5 News: https://youtu.be/4iDiP3jYnRU…

Please share if someone you know has been affected by exclusion, particularly if they have autism or ADHD.

I was also contacted about doing a piece on mid-life career change for BBC Radio 5 Live, but some football match took up the air time…!

That’s enough media courting for one week, I’m back to finishing my workshop session for next week at the White House, Hampton. Hope to see you soon.

© Suzy Rowland

Events

Uncovering Autism & ADHD: the Black Child’s Perspective

I’m excited to tell you I will be doing a talk at Khembe’s Return to Your Roots on Sunday 5th May. The event will be held at the H Suite, Edgbaston, Birmingham.

The theme of the talk is “Uncovering Autism & ADHD: The Black Child’s Perspective, and it promises to be a stimulating and educational talk. People who’ve experienced my #happyinschool project talks, know, I’m not about talk for talk’s sake. I’m about taking action, discovering solutions and activating change.

Khembe’s Return to Your Roots is an event celebrating the Black experience: culture, hair, beauty, well-being encompassing and highlighting the more positive attributes of the black family. These are exciting times: times to take a sharp look at ourselves as human beings, as social beings and as parents. I will be urging parents to take particular interest in how we can best equip our children for an education system that despite firm efforts, still contains systemic bias against significant groups of pupils: those with special educational needs, and those of Caribbean heritage.  These are not merely opinions, statistics from the Department for Education evidence that these biases do exist. (2017/18).

In 2007, a pamphlet called ‘Challenging Exclusions, Handbook for Parents’, was published by Birmingham’s Partnership for Achievement, set up to ensure that Birmingham’s Caribbean community was achieving their full potential socially, economically through educational attainment. One of the findings from this study conducted by the then DfES (Department for Education & Skills) was that a disproportionate number of Black Caribbean and or Black of mixed heritage pupils, were excluded from school.

I have a copy of this pamphlet, in my extensive library of SEN and child development literature. Part of the reason I have a copy is that it was co-authored by my late mother, Cas Walker, a huge champion of education equality and diversity. The apple, as they say, rarely falls too far from the tree!

© Suzy Rowland