Thursday, 30 July 2009

The 60 pupils that David Cameron says cause all our school discipline problems

Today's school exclusion statistics repay close examination, given that just about the only significant thing the Tories would do differently from Labour on exclusions policy is to abolish appeal panels leaving heads to take their chances in the courts if parents don't like the verdict of school governors when they appeal. The key facts on appeals (see Table 11) are these:
  • In 2007/08 there were some 780 appeals lodged by parents against the permanent exclusion of their child. This represents a decrease of 25 per cent since the previous year.
  • Of the appeals heard, 26 per cent were determined in favour of the parent, which represents an increase of 1.3 percentage points since the previous year.
  • Of the appeals determined in favour of the parent, reinstatement of the pupil was directed for 35 per cent of cases, a decrease of almost 5 percentage points since the previous year.
To put that last bullet point in simple terms, there were just 60 - that's sixty - successful appeals where pupils were reinstated as a result of the appeal in the original school. That's 60 cases out of 8,130 permanent exclusions, out of 7.3 million pupils, where the head's decision was not effectively upheld. Does David Cameron really believe that those 60 pupils are responsible for all the discipline problems in our schools?

I have also written about this issue on the Public Finance blog.


Sam said...

Spot on. Why has no one else (the DCSF, or Ed's SPad) pushed this issue and this stat wider??

Joe Nutt said...

Exclusions are the tip, of the tip, of a crippling iceberg, but if you want still to trade stats, instead of dealing with reality.

According to the OECD (an organisation just a little less partisan than the department) Tallis Report, June 16th, 2009:

"Bad behaviour by students in the classroom disrupts lessons in 3 schools out of 5."

"On average, teachers spend 13% of classroom time maintaining order."

"Aside from classroom disturbances, other factors hindering instruction included student absenteeism (46%), students turning up late for class (39%), profanity and swearing (37%), and intimidation or verbal abuse of other students (35%)."

Still keen to make excuses for the inexcusable?

conor ryan said...

Of course, there is some bad behaviour in a majority of schools. However Ofsted also says that it is a serious problem in relatively few. But that is not the point. I am in favour of tough consistent sanctions for indiscipline, including exclusions where appropriate. What I am critical of is gimmicky solutions based on poor evidence like the appeals panel proposal It is bizarre to make this the centrepiece of any discipline policy as Cameron has.