School exclusion is on the rise, but surely there has to be a better solution?
Apologies for the lengthy silence, readers: I am back and this time it’s personal…
Some local authorities are now working to reduce the practice of excluding pupils who misbehave. Not before time!
How did it ever come about that children who behave badly are excluded from school? What a ridiculous and drastic remedy – even for kids carrying weapons. Why are children always on the receiving end of society’s most draconian measures? The number of exclusions in UK schools has been on the rise in recent years. Now whose fault can that be? If it’s the parents’ fault then, no doubt, the politicians’ remedy is either to fine them or send them to prison. We’ve had that one before. If it’s the children’s fault, then they should be chucked out of the very school responsible for educating them.
When I was at school, if you behaved badly you were told off. If your behaviour became really bad, you were made to stand outside the door. That was enough. A large number of exclusions involved disobedience. Others are triggered by the verbal abuse of staff. Some pupils are excluded several times in the course of a year. According to my dictionary, the word ‘teacher’ means guide or adviser. There is a statutory duty to give a child an education. We all have to go to school, don’t we? Kids go to school to learn and I don’t just mean the three Rs. They need to learn how to be civilised, how to function as members of the human race. If a child is too disruptive to teach, modern teachers chuck the troublemakers, not just out of the classroom for the duration of the lesson but right out of the school, ruining their exam and career chances, however slim these might be. Let’s face it, low achieving and the spiral of failure can hardly be helped by complete exclusion. Many of these children who have been barred from school will end up being excluded from society as well – the failures of the future. It should be obvious to school staff that education is the principal weapon against social exclusion.
What would the world be like if we all decided to deal with out problems in this way? Wouldn’t most parents of difficult children give their eye teeth to be able to resolve their conflicts by chucking their children out on the street? So many families go through nightmares with children who are difficult and frequently violent. The situation is so bad that a Parentline equivalent to the one run by Childline had to be set up to help support them. We all know that bullying in schools is a huge problem. And carrying weapons in school is an extremely unpleasant sign of the times. But the harsh truth is that we all have to put up with aggressive, bullying people at work. Rudeness and abuse are not exclusive to the teaching profession, not by a long chalk. We are all at risk of the violent and misguided in our midst.
Doctors and nurses are routinely assaulted by drunks and drug addicts. Traffic wardens, the police, even the fire brigade are often attacked by irate members of the public. It would be very nice if we could all exclude our problems, shut them out and be done with it. But we can’t. We don’t. The number of exclusions in our schools is a national disgrace and teachers should learn to deal with young people in all their guises – or join another profession. A school is not supposed to be a refuge from society’s flotsam and jetsam. It’s not supposed to be a place where only goodie-goodies and swots are allowed to succeed. The highest number of exclusions occurs in areas where there are high levels of deprivation, such as Glasgow. In those places, teachers need to lead the way, not slam the door in the faces of those whose need for guidance is paramount.
Article focus: school exclusion