School exclusion rates in England have risen by 40% over the last three years to almost 7,000 a year.
41 students every day are officially excluded, whilst many others are unofficially excluded through which they aren’t educated in a mainstream setting. Only 1.5% will leave with five good GCSE’s and 1 in 2 excluded children are not in education, employment or training (NEET) from the age of 16.
Children excluded from school are:
- 4 times more likely to have be born in poverty.
- 10 times more likely to experience mental health challenges
- 2 times more likely to be in care
- 7x more likely to be struggling with special educational needs
This is an urgent problem. Once excluded, children in alternative provision settings often receive the poorest education. Only 1% leave school with five good GCSEs including in English and Maths.
The Difference was born from a year’s research into school exclusion and the teaching workforce. The Making The Difference IPPR report is the most comprehensive study of school exclusion in England.
The key findings include that 50,000 young people are in provisions for excluded pupils in England. These provisions need more support in teacher recruitment and training. Yet recruitment for the leaders working with these teachers has seen vacancies double between 2011 and 2016.
The report found that mainstream schools also require more specialist leadership in inclusion. 1 in 2 school leaders say their teachers cannot recognise behaviour linked to mental health problems.
The Difference creates a new generation of leaders able to deliver the best education to the most vulnerable children.
The Difference is a new professional development and leadership route though the teaching profession to train exceptional teachers as mental health specialists.
The Difference Leaders programme recruits great teachers to senior leadership vacancies in schools for excluded pupils. Through a two-year post and wrap-around training and support, the programme leads capacity-building in their placement school. After two years, participants have the tools to become specialist mainstream leaders, reducing exclusions.
50,000 young people are in provisions for excluded pupils in England
Work in action
The Difference’s pioneer cohort of Difference Leaders will take 10 exceptional teachers and place them in schools for excluded children.
Through recruiting exceptional teachers in to alternative provision settings, The Difference helps to raise the status of challenging and rewarding work, similar to the way in which TeachFirst raised the status of inner-city teaching.
The Difference officially launched its programme in January 2019. Applications for their first cohort exceeded 250. The Difference will train its first leaders in specialist skills via a two-year Masters programme-which includes modules in mental health and child development, and focuses on understanding the multidisciplinary nature of children’s services, and place them in the schools which need the most.
The pioneer cohort of Difference Leaders will take 10 exceptional teachers and place them in schools for excluded children. Through recruiting exceptional teachers in to alternative provision settings, The Difference helps to raise the status of challenging and rewarding work, similar to the way in which TeachFirst raised the status of inner-city teaching.
These leaders will then take their expertise back into the mainstream school system to support both students and staff to prevent school exclusions and build healthy, inclusive, thriving learning environments. The Difference will nurture and work of innovative leaders, able to pioneer change in school culture and cross-sector collaboration.
The Big Changers
The Difference was founded by Kiran Gill and supported by the Inclusion Trust, IPPR, Impetus PEF.
Kiran is a Cambridge graduate and former TeachFirst teacher who has also worked in policy for both the Department for Education and IPPR.
For Kiran, this issue is personal; not only has she seen the impact of poor mental health support during her time as a teacher, but she was raised with two adopted sisters who suffered from attachment issues due to their childhood experiences.
The Difference held their first conference IncludEd in January 2019. It brought together expert practitioners, bright minds and those willing to think differently.
The conference was a unique opportunity to access CPD from, and build a dialogue with, the country’s leading practitioners for supporting the needs of vulnerable pupils. The Difference will be hosting the next IncludEd in 2020
The Difference have been featured in both sector media and mainstream media including The Times, The Guardian, The Economist, ITV news, BBC Politics, BBC News TES, Schools Week.