Ministers and politicians are very excited today because of a new report showing that expulsions in schools are down. Let's not get ahead of ourselves...
Education experts have cast doubt on the overall expulsion figure, saying the report hides the pressure exerted on head teachers not to exclude even the most violent pupils from their schools.
Furthermore I have anecdotal evidence from head teachers that they are under pressure from local authorities not to exclude pupils for the sake of good statistical results.
If you are reading this from Canada, about to snicker and make a comment about how screwed the UK is hold that thought. SMW has worked in education on both sides of the Atlantic and I can assure you that this is taking place in Canadian schools as well. Under a certain Ontario government a major emphasis was put on stats and numbers and this culture of statistics remains. It is extremely difficult to suspend or expel a student from school - in fact in many cases these acts cannot simply be approved by teachers and principals, they have to approved (or can be nixed) by someone on the local school board. When students are expelled or suspended it contributes to the stats of the school and the school board. Nobody wants to look bad so they push things under the rug and coverup to make themselves look good. All of this happens at the cost of teachers, students and the student who needs to learn that actions have consequences. The same thinking applies to failing kids. Once in high school refusing to fail a child has little to do with 'self-esteem' and alot to do with school stats.
Mrs Ballinger added she was shocked at the small number of permanent exclusions for more serious violent incidents. She added: "Members come to me with stories of pupils waving machete-type weapons in classroom one day, but being back in school the next."They are afraid for their staff's safety, but they are not being allowed to exclude these pupils."Of the 302 reported assaults on a pupil with a weapon, only two pupils were permanently excluded. And only one of the 102 pupils who assaulted staff with a weapon was permanently excluded.
OK, it's not quite that bad in Canada. Yet.
And finally to clearly illustrate just how out of touch government and education officials are with what is going on in schools:
Despite the rise in violent assaults, the minister for skills and lifelong learning, Keith Brown, hailed "exciting, relevant and engaging" classes as a major factor behind the fall in exclusions.
SMW thinks that speaks for itself.