In 2013, there were 3,900 permanent exclusions from secondary schools in England. Boys are three times more likely to be excluded than girls, and pupils with special educational needs (SEN) account for 7 in 10 permanent exclusions. ‘Persistent disruptive behaviour’ is the most common reason for permanent exclusion.
Many of the young people who are excluded end up in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs). The Bridge Academy that features in the OU/BBC series Excluded: Kicked Out of School is one of these. With 90 students, it is the largest PRU in England. Every one of its students have been permanently excluded from mainstream schools.
The move to ‘alternative provision’ such as a PRU is not intended to be permanent – the intention is that, with support, some students can be integrated back into mainstream schools. In reality, though, many children and young people will remain in PRUs for significant parts of their school lives. A key concern that has been raised about PRUs is that a large number of pupils that attend them leave without achieving meaningful qualifications.
The following debates are drawn from issues raised in the series.