Tom Bennett

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Exclusions expelled: private school alumnus tells state schools, ‘Don’t exclude bad children’.

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Well, it had to happen. Just as I was beginning to wonder who had stolen Michael Gove and replaced him with a human being, I am simultaneously reassured and appalled to see that business is proceeding as normal. In a story in the Daily Telegraph, it’s reported that Gove has decided that, in future any school that excludes a pupil will be forced to pay the costs towards that child’s education in the school they move on to after exclusion. AND, the grades that the child obtains in their new school will count for the school which excluded in the last place. Which given the demographic of the excluded, doesn’t normally mean A*s.

I am gnashing my teeth and clawing at the sockets of my eyes over this. This is, without a doubt, the single most anti-education policy that I have heard in the last five years. At least until now it has been merely difficult to exclude; schools have been deterred from excluding by the threat of an unfavourable Ofsted inspection, on the already witless assumption that a school that excludes pupils is somehow responsible for the behaviour of that pupil. But the result of these new measures will mean one thing only: schools just won’t exclude.

And what will happen as a result of that? Well, for a start, short term, internal exclusions and fixed term external exclusions will rocket. But because the pupil isn’t gone for good, they, like every good zombie, will return from the dead to haunt the corridors, and terrorise the pupils, classrooms and teachers that they were exorcised from. Over and over again, in a Hellish infinite regress of bad behaviour.

That’s bad enough. The knock on effect? Classrooms will be populated by students who have been proven to be beyond the capacity of mainstream education to handle, many of whom are there simply to disrupt as much as possible. Given that we are bending over backwards to teach them that their actions have no consequence, I imagine they won’t be mending their behaviour any time soon. The effect this has on a class is awful to see; it was one of the first things I noticed in education when I trained as a teacher. It only takes one or two mentalists to ruin the finest lesson; and once a few of them get going, and get away with it, the rest of the class are tempted into piracy as well. It’s a trickle effect that can ruin the education of millions.

Permanent exclusions aren’t pretty, but they need to exist, for the simple reasons that prisons need to exist in society; there needs to be an ultimate sanction to both deter and remove the very worst. Sure, the carousel of schools that these students go through isn’t perfect either, but the best solution was taken away from us: special schools, where these pupils can get the help and support they need, and not simply penning them into classrooms where they can’t cope, and neither can the teacher.

Of course, Gove’s scheme is only piloting right now, which means its being tested out in a few selected schools. But I can almost guarantee that the evidence has already been decided in favour of the project. Why? Because it is inevitable that introducing this scheme into any school ecosystem or cluster will result in a decline in the number of schools excluding. Which, in the current climate of data-obsession, will mean that on a nice coloured bar chart, this will look like it has the effect of ‘forcing schools to face up to bad behaviour’ and to ‘really work with the pupil to reduce bad behaviour.’ Which is guano, incidentally. All it will mean is that schools will permanently exclude less, and another generation of school children will be condemned to sit in sink lessons as one or two egoists parade their unattractive characters around the room for years on end, and watch as their education goes down the plughole.

Well done, Michael. An excellent weekend’ s work.

For God’s sake, it’s even being touted as ‘A clampdown on school exclusions,’ as if that was the problem, and not the behaviour that leads to the exclusions. To paraphrase the artist formerly known as Banksy, ‘That’s like going to a restaurant because you’re looking forward to the sh*t you’re going to have afterwards.’

So far this is a pilot project, as part of a white paper that is being drawn up as I froth and rage. Which means it’s far from a certainty yet. Great Krypton, I hope I’m wrong about this. You would almost think that no one in the Ministry of Silly Lessons has ever been outside of a private school.

Oh, wait a minute. They haven’t.


7 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    By the way, I think you mean “alumnus”.

    Stupid policy – deserves to bite the dust.

  2. Neil says:

    I don't like Gove's policy and have issues around it. Therefore I will turn up to the next cabinet meeting and run around swearing, throwing pens, and saying abusive/threatening things to anyone who gets in my way. But having me thrown out is not the answer – that would lead me to visit less safe meetings and miss out on valuable life chances. Instead, Gove will have to find ways to include me in the meeting, and plan the meeting better so that I don't feel so alienated.
    Then, when I'm doing this every single meeting, let's see how much he and his colleagues can concentrate and get things done. They'll probably start coming up with very silly policies.
    Oh, wait…

  3. Tom Bennett says:

    “By the way, I think you mean “alumnus”.”

    I was going to try to style it out and say that I was referring to the whole pestilential bunch of them, but I know that lying is a sin. Alumnus it is.

  4. Tom Bennett says:

    @Neil

    The next logical step would be to put them in charge of the meeting in order for them to feel valued and appreciated; this will lead to their self-esteem being raised, and they will flourish as members of the cabinet community.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If you had claimed it was definitely meant to be alumni, then you would still have been wrong, because it wouldn't agree with “tells”.

    Can't win đŸ˜‰

  6. Neil says:

    Actually, on reflection, permanent exclusions (of a kind) are alive and well, and this may even increase them. I'm thinking of cases where bullying has got so bad that the victims have become school refusers or their parents have felt compelled to move them to another school. It starts to look like your only option once you realise that the person tormenting you will never, ever be expelled.

  7. Tom Bennett says:

    Well, it's official; he's done it, fairly close to what was leaked. Some good ideas, and some awful. I'm going to go through it with nit-tweezers and write something about it soon. Glad to see that schools will have to fund any students permanently excluded. The rationale for that piece of quackery is beyond me, unless he genuinely believes that schools should be punished for, for example, excluding a recidivist bully, as you mention, Neil.

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