05 SES 04, Dropout Prevention, Exclusion and Alternative Provision
In 2011 the Welsh Government commissioned a research team from the University of Edinburgh to carry out a national evaluation of a) exclusion processes and b) the delivery, planning and commissioning of education provision for children and young people educated outside of the school setting. The researchers were also asked to make recommendations for policy development. This paper reviews the findings and considers the implications for policy and practice in Wales, as a newly devolved nation with an explicit and proud commitment to children’s rights.
Wales devolved from the UK to establish its own government in 1999. It has a largely agricultural economy, a population of around 3 million people and two official languages; Welsh and English (around 20% of the population are Welsh speakers). Wales has a higher proportion of 25-64 year olds with low or no qualifications than both the OECD average and the UK. The mean score for both reading and mathematics in Wales for 15 year olds ranks in the lower half, below the OECD average. In terms of 15-19 year olds not in education, training nor employment, Wales has a higher proportion than the OECD average. It has the highest proportion of children in the UK living in poverty. The country has a long history of political association with its much larger neighbour, England, but since devolution in1999, it has sought to assert its own political identity and priorities. At the forefront of this has been an explicit legislative and policy focus on children’s rights.
In terms of education for children and young people with troubled and troublesome behaviour, however, a number of critical issues have been identified in recent reports and reviews (Butler, 2011, Estyn 2011, 2012, Welsh Assembly Government 2008, 2011). These issues include the use of unlawful exclusion; an unacceptably wide degree of variation in provision for those excluded from school; poor educational outcomes for those excluded, lack of reintegration into school and the inappropriate use of physical intervention and restraint. The recommendations sought by the Government, then, were a key focus in this research.
Butler, V. (2011) Experiences of illegal school exclusions in Wales: a qualitative study, Cardiff: Barnado’s Cymru Estyn (2011) Joint Investigation into the handling and management of allegations of professional abuse and the arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children in education services in Pembrokeshire County Council, Cardiff: CSSIW Estyn (2012, July) Note of visit: Behaviour management in four Pembrokeshire schools, Cardiff: Estyn Head, G. (2007) Better Learning, Better Behaviour, Dunedin Academic Press: Edinburgh McAra, L. and McVie, S. (2010) Youth crime and justice: Key messages from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, Criminology and Criminal Justice, 10, no.2, pp.179-209 McCluskey, G., Brown, J., Munn, P., Lloyd, G., Hamiton, L. Macleod, G. and Sharp, S. ‘Take more time to actually listen’: students’ reflections on participation and negotiation in school, British Educational Research Journal.DOI:10.1080/01411926.2012.659720. Parsons, C. (2009) Strategic Alternatives to Exclusion from School, Trentham: Stoke-on-Trent Riddell, S. and McCluskey, G. (2012) ‘Policy and provision for children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties in Scotland: Intersections of gender and deprivation’ in Cole, T., Daniels, H. and Visser, J. (eds.) The Routledge International Companion to Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties London: Routledge Welsh Assembly Government (2008) The National Behaviour and Attendance Review Report, Cardiff: Welsh Assembly Government Welsh Assembly Government (2011) Review of Education Otherwise Than at School and Action Plan, Cardiff: Welsh Assembly Government
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