School Exclusion: Timpson Review - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:24 pm on 7th May 2019.

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Photo of Lord Storey Lord Storey Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Education) 6:24 pm, 7th May 2019

My Lords, I too thank the Minister for the Statement that he has read, and I thank Edward Timpson for his report. It is not a surprising report, really —we all knew that this was going on—and I always wonder why we need to wait for a report before taking action. It is an absolute scandal that 40 pupils a day are permanently excluded from school and 2,200 pupils every day are put on a system of semi-exclusion. What happens? Well, two things happen. First, if they are lucky, they get put into alternative provision, and most of that alternative provision is unregistered. We have heard what the chief inspector has said about unregistered schools—that they are unsafe and that vulnerable young people are put in a very unhelpful situation. Many of them, if they are not put into a proper alternative provider, get involved in gang culture, and we know where that can lead. So why does the report not say absolutely clearly that unregistered schools for alternative provision should not be allowed and that we should take action against them? These vulnerable young people need to be in the most supportive environment with the best qualified and trained teachers.

Secondly, on the issue of knife crime, I welcome the idea of having a multiagency discussion to look at how we deal with this, but it is sad that there is no mention of the youth service. We should be investing in the youth service and, in particular, in detached youth workers.

Then we come to the issue of off-rolling, which has already been mentioned. Again, it is a scandal that schools can just off-roll pupils—often the most vulnerable pupils, including those with special educational needs. Nowhere does the report say why schools are allowed to off-roll. Why are schools off-rolling? We know that they off-roll because they want to do well in their school inspection and in their league table results, but, again, that should not be allowed. Also, when a pupil is off-rolled from a school, who is responsible for that pupil? Not the school or the local authority—the pupil is in limbo.

I hope the Minister might address those three issues. Finally, I am sure he would agree that it would be useful to have a proper debate on this issue in your Lordships’ House.