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Making the Difference: Breaking the link between school exclusion and social excusion

Nowhere is Britain’s social mobility failure more obvious than in the example of school exclusion in England. Excluded children are the most vulnerable: twice as likely to be in the care of the state, four times more likely to have grown up in poverty, seven times more likely to have a special educational need and 10 times more likely to suffer recognised mental health problems. Yet our education system is profoundly ill-equipped to break a cycle of disadvantage for these young people.

This problem is much bigger than previously recognised. As mental ill health in young people rises, and more children are subject to interaction with social care services each year, more vulnerable children spill into the alternative provision (AP) sector. Too often this path leads them straight from school exclusion to social exclusion. Excluded young people are more likely to be unemployed, develop severe mental health problems and go to prison.

The cost to society of failing excluded young people is staggering. It is an economic, as well as social imperative that action is taken to upskill the teaching workforce, improve outcomes for multiply disadvantaged pupils and to stem the tide of exclusions. IPPR is advocating a new programme – The Difference – to develop expertise in the teaching profession, connect exceptional teachers to schools for excluded children, and create a community of leaders to drive positive and lasting change throughout England’s education system.

IPPR finds significant demand for such a programme. More than one in three teachers is interested in the proposed training and career development offered by The Difference. Networks of alternative provision schools have welcomed the programme and several of England’s biggest mainstream multi-academy trusts have already expressed interest in recruiting specialist senior leaders through this pathway.