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Inclusion not exclusion

Everyone has a different experience growing up. When young people are excluded from school, it often doesn't take this into account. It makes things worse. We listen to young people, give them a chance to express their views and try to understand what they need to fulfil their potential. Here's what young people say about school exclusions.

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school exclusions

girl looks back at the school doors

A vicious cycle

Not every child has it easy growing up. Some children live in disadvantaged areas or with families who are struggling with poverty or addiction. Others have mental health or special educational needs. Any of these things can make it difficult for young people to behave appropriately in school.

The problem is, the punishments they face only exclude them more. Many young people we spoke to link school exclusions with other bad things going on in their lives.  

‘School did nothing to actually help, they just excluded me. If they wanted me to behave and ‘be normal’ then they should have told me how. They should have got me back into lessons and actually supported me.’

School did nothing

Some told us they felt teachers didn’t listen or abused their power. They didn't feel they were treated with enough respect. 

‘When I first came I felt I was equal to the teachers, but as I got older I realised they were just abusing all the power. If we’ve said anything, they’ve just overruled it by giving a detention.’  

We go to school to be taught. Don’t send kids home

Teaching and trust

Teaching and trust

Schools are a big part of a child’s life. They learn about the world. They develop skills. They make friends. And teachers have a big role in this. Many young people spoke to us about teachers treating some pupils differently to others. It’s unfair. They feel judged before they have even opened their mouths.

‘They put me in lessons that I was struggling with…the teachers didn’t understand me or want to understand me.’

Young people made it clear that the environment teachers create is important to their behaviour. They want to feel supported. They want to be heard. They told us having a teacher they could trust and talk to made the world of difference.

girl on boy enjoying mechanics class in school

teachers are important

He was the headteacher, but he was like my mentor. He used to be there for me.

‘That one teacher you can trust, sit down with them and build through a plan how you can actually improve in school and at home.’ 

‘Having that black female teacher. For me, it was like I saw where she was coming from. I could relate to her so much more. She opened so many opportunities for me.’ 

Youth voice on school exclusions

Every child should be allowed to express themselves. Share their feelings. Weigh in on what matters to them. School exclusions don’t allow for any of that. 

The rules don’t consider what they have been through. What’s happening at home. Whether they are being bullied. We need to listen. If we work with young people we can change the education system for the better. 

Read our Youth Voice on School Exclusions report to find out more about the work we do supporting children who have experience of school exclusions.