THE BLOG

Exclusion Is a Necessary Tool - But Schools Are Handling Behaviour Better Than Ever Before

30/07/2015 16:35 BST | Updated 30/07/2016 10:59 BST

Today we are publishing figures revealing that, despite a small rise since last year, almost 800 fewer children are permanently excluded from school per year than before we began reforming school behaviour in 2010. With help from our extensive reforms, schools are becoming much better environments in which to learn.

Even a small handful of poorly-behaved children can ruin lessons, and disrupting the teaching of their peers by absorbing teachers' time and ruining the flow of the lesson. It is simply not fair that children should have to put up with being taught alongside children who turn up to school intent on holding back the rest of the class.

While exclusion is not a magic bullet, and we encourage schools to consider all options before deciding to exclude a child, it is a necessary power that head teachers need as a last resort. But thanks to our reforms teachers now have greater powers than ever before to tackle poor behaviour before it gets to the point where exclusion is necessary.

We have strengthened teachers' rights to issue no-notice detentions, search for prohibited items and use reasonable force to remove children from classrooms. We have also made behaviour management a crucial part of a headteacher's training.

Now we are going even further by appointing Tom Bennett, a world-renowned expert on pupil behaviour, to lead a group to look into the best approaches of ensuring teachers are fully trained to deal with unruly pupils.

But often headteachers decide that exclusion is necessary to allow their other hard-working children to fulfil their potential. We back them fully in these difficult decisions and have ensured they have the confidence to exclude pupils when this is necessary. To help this we have ended the unfair situation where a school's decision to exclude an unruly child could be overturned based on technicalities by external panels.

This has ensured the authority of the school is no longer undermined, putting them firmly back in charge of exclusions. In the first year after we reformed exclusion decisions the number of pupils reinstated dropped by half in maintained schools, signalling the empowerment of schools over discipline.

We have also seen a remarkable improvement in school attendance, with fewer pupils persistently missing school than ever before. Figures for the 2013/14 academic year show 200,000 fewer children regularly miss school than in 2010, a testament to the hard work of teachers and our reforms to tackle absenteeism.

The new freedoms and greater clarity over exclusions given to head teachers is having a positive impact on behaviour. I am hugely encouraged by what schools have achieved - but parents know we cannot be complacent until all children are being taught in safe, calm and studious classrooms.

Nick Gibb is the schools minister and Conservative MP for Bognor Regis