Primary school exclusions

The rise in fixed-term primary school exclusions raises a number of issues. The statistics reflect a change  in primary teaching with greatee emphasis now on transmitting subject knowledge and less on developing pedagogy and school policy aimed at overcoming learning barriers linked to social issues. There is a growing articulation that children either behave in class or are removed. On one level, this is to be welcomed. Primary staff should not be expected to deal with issues that are so far beyond their control. Tom Bennett’s promised guidance on behaviour management training that deals with low level disruption will hopefully reduce exclusions. Also, the evidential accuaracy of Jack Marwood’s metaphor of teaching as “the icing on the cake” is important to acknowledge. However there is a large “but” coming here.


if no-one is supporting children when they are excluded because external services such as educational psychology have been cut…

if there is no evidence that fixed term exclusions impact positively on the individual pupil, on the class or on the teacher…

if a disproportionate number of children who are excluded come from specific backgrounds…

if we do not acknowledge the evidence that all children (and adults) contribute to low level disruption at times in different contexts…  

then we are potentially damaging learning and lives. 

I don’t have any solutions and I do not believe that primary teachers should be held accountable for society’s problems (although they still are by the media and politicians). I am concerned that we are burying our heads in the sand of marketisation, academisation and austerity rather than considering the long term human cost of exclusion. 


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