Included, engaged and involved part 2: preventing and managing school exclusions

Part two of guidance document 'Included, Engaged and Involved', which refreshes the national policy on school exclusions.

Section 1 - Introduction

The purpose of this guidance is to refresh national policy on the prevention of and the management of exclusion from school in the context of national government and education authority [1] responsibilities and desired outcomes for children and young people. The overarching aim of this guidance is to support schools, communities and their partners to keep all children and young people fully included, engaged and involved in their education; and, to improve outcomes for all Scotland's children and young people with a particular focus on those who are at risk of exclusion. It also recognises the need for all members of a learning community to be safe and feel protected. Early Learning and Childcare establishments can also use this guidance to support practice.

This guidance replaces 'Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2: a positive approach to managing school exclusions' [2] published in March 2011. 'Included, Engaged and Involved Part 1: attendance and absence in Scottish schools' [3] , published in December 2007 relates to the promotion of attendance and management of absence in schools.

This guidance is an opportunity to refresh and realign the use of exclusion in learning establishments. It includes a refreshed focus on prevention, early intervention and response to individual need in line with the principles of Getting it Right For Every Child ( GIRFEC) [4] . It emphasises the need for learning establishments to place a greater importance on inclusion through effective learning and teaching; promoting positive relationships and behaviour; and employment of preventative approaches which reduce the need to consider exclusion.

Exclusion should only be used as a last resort. It should be a proportionate response where there is no alternative and it is important that the views of the child or young person and those of their parent(s) are taken into account. Schools and education authorities should also consider all the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident(s) leading to exclusion. The purpose of the exclusion and the impact on the child or young person should be taken into consideration, including the long term impact on life chances (see Section 5). The wellbeing and safety of the whole school community should also be taken into account when considering exclusion.

Where exclusion is used it should be a short term measure with the aim of improving outcomes. It should enable further planning and assessment and provide an opportunity for reflection for both the child or young person and staff involved. Relationship-based approaches, such as solution oriented or restorative approaches, should be used to guide and support a child or young person's return to school.

The Scottish Government is committed to research into Behaviour in Scottish Schools [6] ( BISSR) to help inform guidance. Previous BISSR research has demonstrated that investing time and resources into improving relationships and behaviour in learning establishments leads to positive outcomes around inclusion, engagement, attainment and achievement in the short term and community safety and cohesion in the longer term.

Children entitled to funded early learning and childcare can receive this in local authority or partnership settings. Partnership settings are those in the private and voluntary sectors (including childminders) that have been commissioned to provide early learning and childcare on behalf of the education authority. This guidance is intended to support professionals within these settings. Regulation 4 of the Schools General (Scotland) Regulations 1975 as amended applies to early learning and childcare settings under the management of education authorities, although the use of exclusion in such settings would be very unusual and would not reflect high quality inclusive practice.

Education authority powers to exclude do not extend to early learning and childcare at a partner provider setting. Nevertheless, this guidance should support all early learning and childcare establishments in developing their own policies on promoting positive relationships and behaviour.

Voluntary and independent schools may also find this guidance helpful when developing positive relationship approaches in their establishments. In addition, whilst colleges will have their own exclusion guidance and procedures, this guidance can be used to support their approach in preventing and managing exclusions, particularly for colleges when working in partnership with schools. Education authorities should consider how to adopt and disseminate the key messages in this guidance for partners such as parents, children and young people and early learning and childcare partnership providers.

There is an expectation that education authorities and schools will use this guidance to revise and review existing policies and procedures on exclusion, taking account of local circumstances and involving all partners in the development of the new policy. Education authorities and schools should ensure that their policies are set against a framework within which schools, pupils and parents can encourage and maintain a focus on social and emotional wellbeing and an ethos of mutual respect and trust, in order to promote inclusion and a whole school ethos based on positive relationships and behaviour.

Education authorities and schools also have a responsibility to ensure all staff are aware of the guidance; and that the main purpose of exclusion is to ensure appropriate support for the child or young person, and that they are able to re-engage in education. Career Long Professional Learning should be available to support staff. Education authority and school policies and procedures on exclusion should be readily available in a variety of formats that are easily accessible and understood. In addition, education authorities must provide information on their general policy or practice with regard to discipline and school rules and arrangements for enforcing school attendance. They must also make available (at each school and on local authority websites) information to parents on their policy on 'discipline, school rules and enforcement of attendance' as outlined in the Education (School and Placing Information) (Scotland) Regulations 1982 [7] .

Under the Education (School and Placing Information) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 schools are required to provide certain information to parents within a School Handbook. The accompanying guidance on school handbooks sets out the key items of information that should be included in School Handbooks. This includes matters pertaining to the school ethos, support for pupils and school policies. Schools should ensure that their school handbook contains relevant information about exclusions policies, pupil wellbeing and pupil safety.


Email: Douglas Forrester

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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