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I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement. I welcome many of the recommendations made in the review—all eminently sensible recommendations. Of course young people do have a right to be educated in an environment that is conducive to good learning. Teachers also have a right to be able to work without fear or abuse. There are situations where the classroom environment becomes challenging for young people, but that does not mean that the young person should be prevented from accessing an education that is appropriate to their needs.
In Scotland, we are very proud of the work that we have done, and early exclusions have dropped by 59% since 2007. In 2016, just five young people were permanently excluded from the register, but achieving this drop has needed a lot of intervention and the use of things such as time-out rooms, pupil support and links to local further education colleges. In England, by contrast, the exclusion rates are increasing, and it is right that this should be dealt with. The Secretary of State said that 85% of schools do not permanently exclude, but that means that 15% do.
Off-rolling is passing on problems, and it must stop. We do not remove pupils from rolls in Scotland. They will continue to receive an education while excluded, either at school or at another location. Does the Secretary of State agree that, before any exclusion takes place, there should be an agreed plan put in place on what the next steps are for the particular child?
The Secretary of State talks about carrying weapons. Research by Edinburgh University shows that young people excluded from school are much more likely to end up in the criminal justice system or to be drawn to carrying weapons. Schools play a key role in protecting children from exploitation, so does he agree that joined-up work with challenging pupils alongside the police and social workers can have much better long-term benefit for the children than excluding them from the classroom?
Finally, does the Secretary of State agree that pupils with additional support needs, including those on the autistic spectrum, often need proper learning plans put in place, including resources and funding, to properly support them and ensure that they can continue to access mainstream education?