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“How do my placement school’s policies, procedures and provision support pupils at-risk of exclusion?”. Rationale – the national picture.

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how do my placement school s policies procedures and provision support pupils at risk of exclusion

“How do my placement school’s policies, procedures and provision support pupils at-risk of exclusion?”

rationale the national picture
Rationale – the national picture
  • Inclusion (and exclusion) has come under increasing scrutiny recently, particularly the profiles of students likely to be excluded (DCSF 2009; Gazeley 2010; Gazeley et al. 2013).
  • Exclusion must be a ‘last resort’ and the euphemistic ‘managed move’ must be considered (DCSF 2008, p.8)
  • “Deprivation and Education” (DCSF 2009) presented the evidence on the likelihood of exclusion for certain groups of students and on the effect of deprivation. FSM = 3.5 times more likely to be excluded.

The most recent annual exclusion figures show:

  • Boys are 3 times more likely to be excluded than girls
  • SEN students are 8 times (with a statement) or 11 times (without a statement) more likely to be excluded (DfE 2013).
  • I am undertaking this research to provide a holistic picture of one school’s attempts to reduce exclusion and investigate how effectively schools can provide for the types of students mentioned in the papers cited above.
  • I will attempt build on Gazeley et al. (2013) and Hatton (2013) to see if these early findings are corroborated in my placement school’s experience.
rationale the personal picture
Rationale – the personal picture
  • PGCE trainee who undertook the SEND strand of the course.
  • Worked at a special school for EBSD students.
  • Experienced the attitudes of excluded young people once they had permanently left mainstream education.
  • Personal history and childhood.
school context
School context
  • A mixed, urban comprehensive school comprising approximately 1700 students and 250 staff, with a mixed socioeconomic intake and achievement above the national average.
  • The last Ofsted inspection (2013) rated the school as ‘Good’ with an ‘Outstanding’ for behaviour.
  • The proportion of students who speak English as an additional language is above the national average.
  • The proportion of students eligible for Pupil Premium funding is in line with national averages.
  • The number of students identified as SEND is above national averages.
literature review by theme
Literature Review by theme
  • Holistic, person-centered approaches are often effective in terms of supporting ‘at risk’ students to avoid exclusion (Pityonak 2005; OCC 2012; OCC 2013; Orsati et al 2013; Razer et al 2013).
  • Classroom practice is important to the success of an inclusive school – effective training for staff and a culture of supporting students at risk of exclusion (Hill and Brown 2013; Holloman and Yates 2013; Razer et al 2013; Scanlon and Barnes 2013).
literature review by theme1
Literature Review by theme
  • Labelling students as difficult or challenging can have a negative effect on behaviour of students and of staff (Orsati 2013; Holloman and Yates 2013; Macleod 2013).
  • The culture of the school as an inclusive environment that consistently rewards good practice is vital to successfully accommodating the most at-risk students (Munn and Lloyd 2005; Bambara et al 2009; Flannery, Sugai and Anderson 2009; OCC 2012; OCC 2013; Gazeley et al 2013; Cefai et al 2013; Hatton 2013; Razer et al 2013; Tew and Park 2013).
literature review by theme2
Literature Review by theme
  • Rewarding expected behaviour and improvement in behaviour is an effective way of maintaining positive behaviour change in young people (Chafouleas 2006; Cefai et al 2013; Hatton 2013).
  • It can be difficult to engage older students and secure their ‘buy-in’ (Flannery,Sugai and Anderson 2009).

Controversy over rewards

(Pavlov, n.d.)

(Maslow, n.d.)


literature review by theme3
Literature Review by theme
  • Withdrawal groups can form an effective part of in-school provision but only if they do not work as a detriment to overall progress and learning in the mainstream curriculum (Gazeley 2010; OCC 2012; OCC 2013).
  • Communication with parents should be a key part of a successful inclusion system but it has been acknowledged that securing the support of some parents or having parents who are themselves unable to negotiate the school communications systems can be a barrier to success (Munn and Lloyd 2005; Gazeley 2010 and 2012; OCC 2013; McIntosh et al 2014).
research questions
Research Questions

1) How does the school identify a pupil who is potentially at risk of exclusion?

2) What support (in terms of policies, procedures and provision) does the school offer these students?

3) What would be considered a successful outcome for these students?

4) How successful is this support?

my researcher philosophy and approach
My researcher philosophy and approach
  • Epistemology is ‘…the study of how we know things’ (Bernard 2000, p8).
  • A choice between the positivist view where the ‘world exists independently of our lives’ and a social-constructivist view which argues that ‘all experience is historically and socially contingent’ (Briggs et al, 2012, p107; Langdridge and Hagger-Johnson 2009, p365).
  • I retained the social-constructivist philosophy I have broadly accepted prior to this project.
  • As a result of this philosophy, it was essential to use a research design that enabled a deep exploration of this topic from a range of angles.
  • I decided that my research questions called for an exploratory Case Study, using a ‘mixed methods’ approach to data collection – interviews, school policy documents and exclusion figures. (Wilson 2009, p60).
  • This ‘dual approach’ would allow me to avoid a ‘naive empiricism’ (Briggs et al 2012, p25).
  • Due to my position as a PGCE student I also held the position of ‘insider-researcher’ and, as a result, felt that it would be possible for me to take an ethnographic stance during my data collection (Wilson 2009, p63).
  • A research journal helped me to track the case study and record ‘rich’ data as it arose (Westbrook et al. 2010; Wilson 2009, p72).
  • I worked with a group of 3 critical friends to devise ideas, pilot research instruments and discuss the research process (Basit 2010).
methods methods of data analysis
Methods & Methods of Data-Analysis
  • Documentary analysis to identify prior exclusions data up to April 2014.
  • Analysis of school policy documents.
  • 3 semi-structured purposive interviews (Cohen et al, 2011), selectively chosen due to the staff roles at the school. Seen as a ‘conversation’ and statements are ‘in reality, co-authored’(Kvale and Brinkmann 2009, p123; Cohen et al, 2011, p427).
  • Coding analysis of transcripts using a coding, metaphor and thematic approach, followed by disconfirmation analysis (Altrichter, Posch and Somekh 1995).
statistical findings patterns of exclusion
Statistical Findings:Patterns of Exclusion
  • Up to April 2014 there were 65 fixed term exclusions and 0 permanent exclusions.
  • 34 out of 1700 students were excluded at some point in 2013-14.
  • 26 of the 34 students were male, 27 were SEN and 27 were White British.
  • 2 permanent exclusions in the 3 years prior to this research – the national averages show that 0.07% of the school population is permanently excluded each year. 1 student out of 1700 is just below national averages (Expected 1.19 students per annum for a school of this size).
findings interviews documentary
Findings (interviews, documentary)
  • How does the school identify a pupil who is potentially at risk of exclusion?
  • Two main ways: through anecdotal evidence from members of staff and from statistical indicators including attendance and behaviour slips.
  • The statistical indicators are published in a termly report for SLT and inclusion staff to discuss and identify any patterns.
findings interviews documentary1
Findings (interviews, documentary)

2) What support (in terms of policies, procedures and provision) does the school offer these students?

- Students who have been identified are supported through the on-site inclusion unit.

  • This provision includes: skills and engagement groups; reduced timetables; targeted withdrawal and report cards.
  • Interventions last for 12 weeks in the first instance with the option for a renewal.
  • External provision is accessed but all three interviewees identified funding as a stumbling block for this provision.
  • Places on externally provided services are extremely limited: only 9 spaces each year for the major services provided.
findings interviews documentary2
Findings (interviews, documentary)

3) What would be considered a successful outcome for these students?

The on-site unit tries to engage students with school and once this has been achieved a re-integration process begins, where students are moved back into mainstream lessons.

‘…we will settle for them coping and achieving well, attending well…’ (Member of SLT)

‘A positive result would be to see a dip in the number of behaviour incidents.’ (Member of the inclusion unit)

findings interviews documentary3
Findings (interviews, documentary)

4) How successful is this support?

Staff are happy with the low number of permanent exclusions, but recognise that not all students are successfully being re-engaged within mainstream school – they don’t fit the ‘mould’ (SLT).

‘…our exclusion figures, I’m more than happy with those.’ (Inclusion co-ordinator)

In response to being asked about the two permanent exclusions in the past three years, SLT Member replied:

‘even one of those is debatable really.’

further findings regarding success of support
Further findings regarding success of support

On rewards: ‘the rewards system at the minute is poor.’ (SLT)

On staff attitudes to inclusion: ‘I think a lot of the teachers as a whole probably aren’t behind what we do.’ (Member of the inclusion unit)

On communication with parents: The school tries to engage parents in the process of inclusion wherever possible but some frustration exists when parents do not reinforce what the school is trying to do.

On what the interviewees would change:

1. ‘Really top-notch vocational education’ (SLT)

2. ‘Develop our use of alternative provision’ (InCo)

3. Have teachers ‘work with it [inclusion] on a professional level’ (Member of Inclusion) – frustration at some staff notcommitting to inclusion.

  • These findings are tentative and small scale but they position the school as very aware of where their successes and areas for development lie.
  • The identification system is regularly reviewed and effectively used to target support.
  • On-site provision is excellent and provides tangible support for students as and when they need it, contributing greatly to preventing a higher rate of permanent exclusions (OCC 2012; OCC 2013; Gazeley et al, 2013).
  • The sanctions system has been made consistent throughout the school and will be refined over time, leading to a culture of consistency and fairness (Munn and Lloyd 2005; Macleod 2013)
  • The rewards system is something the school is beginning to look atand consider more seriously (Chafouleas 2006; Cefai et al 2013; Hatton 2013).
  • The overall ethos of the school is one of inclusion but all three interviewees acknowledged that there are some staff who do not necessarily ‘buy-in’ to this philosophy (Razer et al 2013; Scanlon and Barnes 2013).
  • Develop a positive reward system, in collaboration with the students, that provides a realistic way of rewarding positive behaviours.
  • Continue to deliver excellent on-site provision and refine the intervention programme.
  • Build links with other local schools to share best practice and provision.
  • Invest time in training the whole staff in inclusive practice to minimise the incidence of negative behaviours in-class, as well as to create a positive school culture built on praise rather than punishment.
  • The research took place in one school in one month so the findings are limited in terms of scale.
  • The 3 interviewees were selectively chosen because of their roles – potential bias in favour of inclusion and the school? Use of questionnaire or greater range of interviews to produce bigger sample?
  • No pupil or parent/guardian/carer voice – sample limitation?
  • Observations with follow-up interviews would have enabled comparison of teacher comments with practice, supporting greater triangulation & reliability.
  • Insider research - Power relationships in the research; trainee interviewer; ‘prevailing power asymmetry’ (Kvale and Brinkmann 2009 ; p147).
suggestions for further research
Suggestions for further research
  • A longitudinal study, tracing the success of intervention programmes for students would allow a clearer picture of the success of the on-site provision, focusing on student and teacher evaluations.
  • Once a more thorough study of this school has been completed, it would be interesting to compare the provision and success of the school with other local schools to establish if there are any links or major differences, and why.
  • Altrichter, Herbert., Feldman, Allan., Posch, Peter., Somekh, Bridget. (2008) Teachers Investigate their Work (2nd Ed) London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis.
  • Bambara, Linda M., Nonnemacher, Stacy., Kern, Lee. “Sustaining School-Based Individualized Positive Behavior Support: Perceived Barriers and Enablers” Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions 11:3 (2009): 161-76.
  • Basit, T.N. (2010) Conducting Research in Educational Contexts. London: Continuum.
  • Bernard, H. Russell (2000) Social Research Methods - Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches, London, Sage.
  • Briggs, Ann R.J., Coleman, Marianne and Morrison, Marlene (2012) Research Methods in Educational Leadership & Management, London, Sage.
  • Cefai, Carmel., Cooper, Paul., Vella, Ray. “A whole-school approach to positive behaviour in a girls’ secondary school.” International Journal of Inclusive Education. 17:7 (2013): 700-713.
  • Chafouleas, Sandra M., Riley-Tillman, Chris., Sassu, Kari A. “Acceptability and Reported Use of Daily Behavior Report Cards Among Teachers.” Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions 8:3 (2006): 174-182.
  • Cohen, Louis., Manion, Lawrence., Morrison, Keith. (2011) Research Methods in Education (2nd Ed) New York: Routledge.
  • Deci, Edward L. (1996) Why We Do What We Do. London: Penguin Books Ltd.
  • Flannery, K. Brigid., Sugai, George., Anderson, Cynthia M. “School-Wide Positive Behavior Support in High School: Early Lessons Learned” Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions 11:3 (2009):177-185.
  • Gazeley, Louise. “The Role of School Exclusion Processes in the Re-Production of Social and Educational Disadvantage.” British Journal of Educational Studies 58:3 (2010): 293-309.
  • Gazeley, Louise. “The impact of social class on parent–professional interaction in school exclusion processes: deficit or disadvantage?” International Journal of Inclusive Education 16:3, (2012): 297-311.
  • Gazeley, Louise., Marrable, Tish., Brown, Chris., Boddy, Janet. (2013) Reducing inequalities in school exclusion: Learning from good practice. Accessed at: (3rd April 2014)
  • Great Britain. Department for Children, Schools and Families (2008) Improving behaviour and attendance: guidance on exclusion from schools and Pupil Referral Units. London.
  • Great Britain. Department for Children, Schools and Families (2009) Deprivation and Education: The evidence on pupils in England, Foundation Stage to Key Stage 4. London.
  • Great Britain. Department for Education (2013) Statistical First Release. London.
  • Hatton, Lucy Ann. “Disciplinary exclusion: the influence of school ethos.” Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties 18:2 (2013): 155-178.
  • Hill, David and Brown, Don. “Supporting inclusion of at risk students in secondary school through positive behaviour support.” International Journal of Inclusive Education 17:8 (2013): 868-881.
  • Holloman, Hal., Yates, Peggy H. “Cloudy With a Chance of Sarcasm or Sunny With High Expectations: Using Best Practice Language to Strengthen Positive Behavior Intervention and Support Efforts” Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions 15:2 (2013): 124-127.
  • Kvale, J and Brinkmann, S. (2009) Interviews: Learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing (2nd Ed) London: Sage.
  • Langdridge,D. and Hagger-Johnson G. (2009)Introduction To research Methods and Data Analysis In Psychology 2nd edition, Harlow England, Pearson.
  • Macleod, Gale. (2013) “How children and young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties see themselves,” in Cole, Ted., Daniels, Harry and Visser., John. (ed.) The Routledge International Companion to Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties. New York: Routledge., pp.68-74.
  • Maslow, Abraham. A Theory of Human Motivation. David Webb (Ed). USA, n.d.
  • McIntosh, Kent., Predy, Larissa K., Upreti, Gita., Hume, Amanda E., Turri, Mary G., Mathews, Susanna. “Perceptions of Contextual Features Related to Implementation and Sustainability of School-Wide Positive Behavior Support.” Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions 16:1 (2014): 31-43.
  • Munn, Pamela and Lloyd, Gwynedd. (2005) “Exclusion and excluded pupils.” British Educational Research Journal. 31:2: 205-221.
  • Office of the Children’s Commissioner. School Exclusions Inquiry “They never give up on you.” (2012). Accessed at: (3rd April 2014).
  • Office of the Children’s Commissioner. “They Go The Extra Mile” Reducing inequality in school exclusions. (2013). Accessed at: (3rd April 2014).
  • OrsatiFernanda T., Causton-Theoharis, Julie. “Challenging control: inclusive teachers’ and teaching assistants’ discourse on students with challenging behaviour.” International Journal of Inclusive Education. 17:5 (2013): 507-525.
  • Pavlov, Ivan. (N.d) Pavlov’s Lecture I. Available from: (Accessed 4th May 2014)
  • Pityonak, David. “10 Things You Can Do to Support A Person With Difficult Behaviors.” (2005) Available at: (Accessed 7th April 2014).
  • Razer, Michal., Friedman, Victor J., Warshofsky, Boaz. “Schools as agents of social exclusion and inclusion.” International Journal of Inclusive Education. 17:11 (2013): 1152-1170.
  • Scanlon, Geraldine., Barnes-Holmes, Yvonne. “Changing attitudes: supporting teachers in effectively including students with emotional and behavioural difficulties in mainstream education.” Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties 18:4 (2013): 374-395.
  • Tew, Marilyn and Park, James. (2013) “Reducing emotional and behavioural difficulties in students by improving school ethos,” in Cole, Ted., Daniels, Harry and Visser., John. (ed.) The Routledge International Companion to Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties. New York: Routledge., pp.68-74.
  • Westbrook, Jo. (2010) “Research Methodologies for the English Classroom,” in Clarke, Stephen., Dickinson, Paul and Westbrook, Jo. (ed.) The Complete Guide to Becoming an English Teacher. London: Sage Publications Ltd., pp.303-321.
  • Wilson, Elaine (2009) School Based Research A guide for education students. London: Sage.