The Timpson review investigated the ways that headteachers use exclusion and why pupils with certain characteristics are more likely to be excluded. In response to the 30 recommendations made in the review, the DfE has published its next steps – this article outlines the actions that will be taken to meet the recommendations.
The DfE’s four core commitments
In response to the review, the DfE is committed to:
- Supporting headteachers to maintain safe and orderly environments for the benefit of all pupils and staff in their schools.
- Supporting schools and their partners to put in place effective interventions to give pupils at risk of exclusion the best chance to succeed.
- Providing greater clarity for school leaders about when and how it is appropriate for pupils to be removed from their school, and ensuring there is sufficient oversight when pupils move around the education system.
- Supporting schools and alternative provision (AP) providers to ensure that pupils who have been excluded continue to benefit from high-quality education.
To achieve the commitments above, the DfE will take the steps outlined in the remainder of this article.
Accountability for excluded pupils
Schools will be held accountable for the outcomes of permanently excluded pupils. The DfE will launch a consultation in Autumn 2019 on how these reforms should be delivered in practice. The department will also seek views on how to mitigate the potential unintended consequences of exclusion that were identified in the review, including how to tackle ‘off-rolling’.
The Timpson review suggests that the DfE should set the expectation that schools and LAs work together to support pupils with additional needs or who are at risk of leaving their school, by exclusion or otherwise. To achieve this, the DfE will drive a place-based, local, collective focus on the outcomes and experiences of pupils who have been excluded or are at risk of exclusion.
A practice programme will be established that embeds effective partnership working between LAs, schools, AP and other partners, e.g. the police, to better equip schools to intervene early for pupils at risk of exclusion. This will also ensure that the most effective provision is put in place for those who are excluded.
Working with sector experts
To ensure school leaders and teachers are supported to develop their behaviour management practices, and to prevent challenging behaviour from affecting pupil outcomes, the DfE is reforming training so that all new teachers receive enhanced training in behaviour and classroom management within their first two years of teaching. The DfE will also consider the need for additional training and support for all teachers on attachment and trauma as part of its Children in Need Review.
The DfE has also announced a £10 million initiative to spread best practice in managing behaviour – from September 2020, behaviour adviser Tom Bennett will lead a number of behaviour support networks to bring about cultural changes in schools that want to improve pupil behaviour.
Using data on pupil moves
The DfE is calling on directors of Children’s Services, governing boards, academy trusts and local forums of schools to review information on pupils who leave schools, by exclusion or otherwise, and establish a shared understanding of how the data on the characteristics of such children feeds on local trends. This information should be used to inform improvements in practice and reduce inequalities in school exclusions.
Extending support for alternative provision (AP)
The DfE wants AP to be recognised as an integral part of the education system, and for all pupils in AP to receive an excellent education. Since the launch of its AP roadmap in 2018, the DfE has made significant progress; the next stage of the DfE’s AP reform programme will consider whether the name for PRUs needs to be changed and how expertise is shared between the AP and mainstream sectors.
To ensure pupils in AP have access to high-quality facilities, the spending review will set future capital budgets for improving and expanding buildings and facilities – this includes those for children who may require AP.
In Autumn 2019, the DfE will outline its plans to continue improving outcomes for children in AP.
The review has raised concerns about the number of school days a pupil can miss in a year due to repeated fixed-period exclusions – currently, a pupil can be subjected to a fixed-period exclusion for 45 days in one year. Concerns have also been raised regarding the amount of time for which a pupil can be excluded, without other education being put in place.
The DfE plans to consult on this matter, before considering a reduction to the limit on the total number of days a pupil can be excluded, and whether to strengthen the requirement to arrange AP during fixed-period exclusions.
Schools are encouraged to continue working alongside health and community services, social services and the police to help protect young people from violent crime. This includes through local safeguarding partners, who have a crucial role in keeping children safe.
In March 2019, a new £200 million Youth Endowment Fund was announced. The fund will deliver long-term, sustainable change, delivering a ten-year programme of grants that will enable interventions targeted at those who are more at risk.
A consultation has also been launched on a multi-agency or ‘public health’ approach to knife crime. Those working in schools, AP and across the education system are encouraged to contribute their views on how local partnerships can work together to prevent serious violence. This consultation closes on 28 May 2019.
Updates to DfE guidance
To address the uncertainty amongst school leaders about what good practice around exclusions looks like, the DfE will be working with sector experts to update and publish clear, consistent guidance on the following:
- ‘Behaviour and discipline in schools’
- ‘Exclusions from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England’
- ‘Mental health and behaviour in schools’
- ‘Promoting the education of looked-after and previously looked-after children’
- ‘The designated teacher for looked-after and previously looked-after children’
- Guidance on the use of in-school units and ‘managed moves’
The department aims to implement these changes by Summer 2020 and will also make appropriate revisions to the ‘Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years’ by the end of 2020.
To ensure governing boards and SLTs are working together and effectively running their schools (including working in the best interests of pupils where exclusions or other moves take place), the DfE will also review it’s ‘Understanding your Data: a guide for school governors and academy trustees’ guidance.
In addition to the action outlined above, the DfE will also:
- Continue to work with Ofsted to define and tackle the practice of off-rolling.
- Continue to promote diversity within the school workforce and, as part of the government’s spending review, consider the Timpson review’s recommendation for more funding to be put towards equality and diversity hubs.
- Provide specialist support to help SENCOs and designated senior leads identify additional needs and put in place effective interventions.
- Support schools and colleges to train a designated senior lead for mental health, free of charge.
- Work with schools to understand the circumstances in which the code ‘other’ is being used to record exclusions and update the list of options available to improve its data on reasons for exclusion.
- Update guidance for parents of pupils who are at risk of exclusion, or who have been excluded, and ensure they are provided with better information about support services.
- The DfE has announced a call for evidence on whether current funding arrangements enable LAs, schools and AP providers to intervene early for pupils at risk of exclusion, provide high-quality AP and take collective responsibility for delivering best value from the funding available. The consultation closes on 31 July 2019 – responses can be submitted here.
- To read the full Timpson review and DfE response, visit the government website.
DfE (2019) ‘Edward Timpson publishes landmark exclusions review’, <https://www.gov.uk/government/news/edward-timpson-publishes-landmark-exclusions-review> [Accessed: 7 May 2019]
DfE (2019) ‘Timpson Review of School Exclusion’
DfE (2019) ‘Timpson review of school exclusion: government response’