Green mayor candidate calls for an end to school exclusions

02 September 2020

A good education is the single most important thing we can provide as a society. Nothing else comes close to helping everyone achieve their potential and live fulfilling lives. At it’s best, good education gives everyone the opportunity to thrive, whatever their background or challenges they face.

Our education system is fantastic. Our teachers and educators work incredibly hard to give children the best chance to thrive and make sure they have a bright future, and prepare them for adult life.

Pandemic has widened education gap

However, home learning, triggered by the pandemic, created huge challenges for both teachers and pupils. The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) surveyed schools across England in July and found that the learning gap between wealthier and poorer pupils had widened by 46%. Teachers from the most deprived schools were more than three times as likely to report their pupils were at least four months behind, compared with those in the wealthiest schools.

As pupils return to school this week, teachers across Bristol will need to adapt to the new circumstances. It will be difficult. Teachers will have to help their pupils catch-up with months of missed work. They will have to cope with new distancing regimes and the threat of a coronavirus outbreak.

No child should be excluded from school

As schools adapt, they must make sure vulnerable young people are properly supported. Those who struggle with traditional academic subjects, must be offered new paths that suit their skills. Above all, these children must not be excluded from education – instead they should be given the support they need to learn as best they can.

Long-term, schools need extra funding and support from central government to make sure every child can thrive. But locally, there is much that can be done to support schools.

Bristol should adopt a zero exclusion policy and invest in support services for vulnerable and disruptive young people. While recognising the disruption that can be caused by individual pupils, the city needs to take properly into account the potentially devastating impact that exclusion from school can have on a child’s life chances. Bristol should be doing everything within its power to ensure that all children have the best chances of leading successful happy lives, and ending exclusion is a crucial part of ensuring that this can happen.

Education is about lighting a fire and a passion in young people of all abilities and from all backgrounds. Education is about giving all children opportunities to thrive. Education is about supporting and encouraging all students to achieve their aspirations.

As part of the drive to build back better and create a fairer and more equal society we must start with education and call on the Council to support #NoMoreExclusions

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