What does the evidence say about banning exclusions?

Filling the pail

School exclusions are a topic of impassioned debate. There is no doubt that students who are excluded from school will go on to have worse outcomes but it is not clear whether this is because they have been excluded. Clearly, the same factors that caused these children to be excluded, whatever they are, could be the cause of these negative outcomes.

Commenting on what he perceives to be a high rate of exclusion in the U.K., Andrew Adonis caused something of a storm on Twitter when he suggested that, “Schools should be forbidden from expelling pupils, unless they have broken the law.” This immediately raises the interesting question of whether, if we followed this line, exclusions would actually reduce. Exclusions are often related to assault, vandalism, possession of weapons or drugs or verbal abuse, much of which is unlawful. It is possible that a school might even be able…

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