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Alternatives to school exclusion: interviews with headteachers in England
Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-11-23, DOI: 10.1080/13632752.2021.1983326
Sarah Martin-Denham


In England, there is a lack of qualitative data exploring the approaches used across age phases and types of schools seeking to provide alternatives to school exclusion. The study used thematic analysis and semi-structured 1:1 interviews with 46 headteachers to determine the strategies employed in their contexts. Three themes were identified: exclusionary systems, processes, and practices; limbo (schools in the mid-ground between inclusive and exclusive practices); and inclusionary systems, processes, and practices. The research highlights the vast range of alternative approaches to school exclusion used in different types of schools. It is evident that the lack of definition of ‘inclusion’ in Department for Education statutory guidance, coupled with schools being able to isolate and segregate children with special educational needs and disabilities for ‘limited periods’, allows for the adoption of exclusionary practices. The results have important messages for the Department of Education in understanding the range of inclusionary and exclusionary approaches used in schools. Furthermore, the study highlights the importance of ‘inclusion’ being consistently defined and explained across departmental statutory guidance to support the adoption of inclusive approaches in schools.