Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, responding to the Education Select Committee report on school exclusions, said:
“This very worrying report backs up what parents, children and teachers have been telling me – some schools are seeking to improve their overall exam results by removing some of their most vulnerable children from the school roll. Sadly this often includes a high number with Special Education Needs and Disabilities, who have no option but to go into inappropriate alternative provision or home education because they are seen as ‘too difficult’ or ‘too expensive’ too teach. As a result we don’t know what education, if any, thousands of children are receiving. These are also often the children most vulnerable to exploitation or grooming by gangs and others.
“There should be no place in the education system for off-rolling children to improve exam results, and school leaders must not game the system in this way. It is a growing problem that needs bold solutions, including looking at financial penalties for schools. Whenever possible the default should be for children to stay within schools.
“We all take school for granted as an essential experience as we grow up – it is part of our self-identity and the friendships we make at school can last for years. Yet for some of the most marginalised, this isn’t the case. Education is a right but they are not receiving it and many will live with the consequences throughout the rest of their life.”