Exclusion: not ideal but best solution
Last updated at 09:09, Friday, 06 February 2009
School exclusions have always been contentious. They polarise opinions on which – after long, difficult, heated argument – there is still no firm agreement.
Exclusion of primary school children is likely to be an even more difficult circle to square.
Punishing very young children by removing them from classes, interrupting their education and risking an early sign that bad behaviour can be a route to rewarding notoriety among peers, is less than ideal – which is why it is reserved as last resort.
Fifty primary school pupils in Carlisle were excluded at least once for bad behaviour in the last school year. These are alarming figures.
But 37 of the 245 incidents that led to children being sent home involved assaults on adults – a teacher, teaching assistant or other staff. There were 73 assaults on fellow pupils, eight incidents of racial abuse, 39 instances of verbal abuse and 88 of persistent disruptive behaviour.
Given the ages of the children involved, those numbers are much more than alarming – they are positively disturbing.
Children have always tested the limits to which their bad behaviour can be pressed. Pushing parents, teachers, siblings and peers to tether’s end is – and always has been – part of the growing process.
The onus is on adults to deal with provocation more effectively, so that children learn social skills and understand the importance of interacting positively with others.
It’s probably accepted that exclusion is unlikely to be the best way to achieve the ideal. But that’s the easy part. Difficulty is in identifying an alternative means that will.
Teachers – and indeed parents – are now more limited in their options for discipline than they ever were.
While ever schools have a duty of care to the majority of the children in their charge, there would seem to be no workable alternative to the less than perfect last resort of pupil exclusion.
First published at 05:26, Friday, 06 February 2009
Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk