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Exclusion from school - the beginning of social exclusion?

School exclusion can ultimately lead to barriers for achievement in life, says Sam Warnes, former teacher and founder of EDLounge

Posted by Julian Owen | June 26, 2018 | School life

It has been suggested since 1993 that exclusion from school can be the first stepping stone to social exclusion within society. School exclusion can lead to barriers for motivation in academia, which can ultimately lead to barriers for achievement in life. 

We must break these barriers to learning!

There is vast research to show that school exclusion is often the first step in lifelong exclusion in multiple spheres of society, and with school exclusions on the rise (nearly 7,000 permanent exclusions last academic year; an increase of over 40 per cent in the past three years), we, as educators, need to consider what the best methods of prevention are.

All children have a right to education and, from experience, whatever the reason for their behaviour or sudden drop in progress, it’s rarely about the students being ‘naughty’. More often than not, it’s about them being disengaged with their learning. Unicef acknowledges that education is the key to breaking the intergenerational cycle of social exclusion, and with so much technology at our fingertips, we now have the ability to personalise learning in a way that helps vulnerable students before it’s too late.

So the question is, how can schools, who are often stretched for budget, improve behaviour and reduce exclusions?

Reducing exclusions

It is often the students who need the most help that are excluded, which is why exclusions from school are always a last resort, and all efforts to retain the child in the school environment should be made.

Children who are excluded are often not engaged by the traditional style of learning; many have special education needs and require a more interactive format. When it becomes clear that a student is struggling to pay attention, it may be helpful to explore options of virtual classrooms.

Virtual classrooms can be accessed with a computer, tablet or smartphone, meaning that students can access the content in an environment more conducive to their learning needs.

In addition to providing a positive environment, a key component of reducing exclusions is being able to track and monitor a student’s interaction and progress with lessons. This can be difficult for a teacher to do in a classroom full of children, but virtual classrooms are goldmines for this type of data. The ability to see where a student is struggling, and so tweak upcoming activities, will ensure that engagement levels remain high, confidence is rebuilt, and no further punitive steps are necessary.

Sam Warnes

Providing education while excluded

In the event that an exclusion from school is necessary, virtual classrooms can be made available for students who have short-term provision, or those who require alternative provision.

Because schools are able to create their own curriculum, or use standardised lessons in line with government requirements, these online support systems are ideal for any age group for those doing core, academic or vocational courses. Courses are run by instructors who the students can ask for help, feedback, comments, and direction.

The completion of activities, regardless of the time and place, makes it possible to track attendance, ensuring that all students are progressing through the virtual classroom. Additionally, virtual learning allows the opportunity to include e-learning courses and resources on wellbeing and behavioural management skills, which can enable a child to return to the mainstream classroom and, later, to flourish in society.

Sometimes all that is needed to bring a student back into the fold is a different approach to education. While this is not always possible within the four walls of a classroom, schools would be remiss not to look into the tech solutions.

For more on EdLounge, please visit


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