Department for Education announce independent review of school exclusions and we want to hear from you!

6 April 2018
Traveller Movement children school education

The Department for Education has announced an external review of school exclusions. This review is quite timely. Last year the Race Disparity Audit revealed Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) children receive the highest rates of both fixed term and permanent exclusions, with boys more than three times more likely than girls to have a permanent exclusion. A recent report by the Traveller Movement found that 70% of GRT people have experienced discrimination in some form of education. The research found that GRT people, at all levels of education, were confronted with ill-informed stereotypes and in many cases blatant racism.

In 2012 an enquiry by the Office for the Children’s Commissioner revealed that exclusions are used as a way to manage behavioural issues. Often times these exclusions are unlawful. According to TM’s analysis of these findings, the majority of exclusions of Gypsy and Traveller children are due to retaliation to persistent and unaddressed racist or discriminatory bullying. GRT children are four times more likely to be excluded than children from other ethnic backgrounds.

However, according to the same report, 100% of appeals against exclusions of Gypsy Roma and Traveller children were successful. This indicates that 100% of these exclusions should not have happened in the first place!

This is why it’s so important that if your child is excluded you get other advice. You can contact the Traveller Movement for this by emailing or ringing 0207 607 2002.

Sometimes, bad behaviour is an indicator that a child is struggling, either academically or otherwise. Schools have a duty to investigate this. If your child is struggling at school extra support should be offered way before any exclusion happens.

Permanent exclusions should only be used as a last resort

The new Government review will look at why some groups, such as GRT communities, are over-represented in the exclusions figures. According to the Department for Education’s guidance, permanent exclusion should only ever be used as “a last resort, in response to a serious breach or persistent breaches of the school's behaviour policy; and where allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in the school”.

In our work with GRT families we find that parents frequently do not know their rights, and rely on the teachers and head teachers to properly inform them of exclusion procedures. It’s important that parents get advice from independent sources rather than only from the school.

Off-rolling and elective home education

According to a report by the Children’s Commissioner official exclusions are rising, but many children are also being excluded by the back door through ‘hidden’ or unofficial exclusions. This includes a move toward home education, off-rolling (where children are taken off roll) and moved into alternative provision, such as pupil referral units, or children are missing from education altogether. There is an estimated 50,000 children aged 5-to-17 years old in home education across England. The true number of home-educated children is unknown and likely to be higher. The Office of Schools Adjudicator annual report says that the increase in children being removed from school to be home educated rather than face formal exclusion is a cause for concern.

The Children’s Commissioner report also highlighted a worrying trend of schools forcing or encouraging children with behaviour issues to leave school. It also highlighted that students who are underperforming are being forced out of mainstream education, often in year 10-11 right before they take their GSCE examinations.  As less than 10% of GRT children obtain GCSE’s this gives us cause for concern. This is also happening in sixth form colleges, with some parents taking legal action against schools that denied school places to their children as their grades were deemed unsatisfactory.

There are numerous strategies a school can use to manage behaviour or underachievement and exclusions should never be one of them. Moreover, it is unlawful to exclude a child for any of the above reasons.

Traveller Movement logo school education exclusion traveller gypsy

We want to hear from you

We would encourage as many people as possible to make submissions to the government letting them know your views on exclusions.

Information on the review and how to send a submission can be found here:

The closing date is the 6th of May.

The Traveller Movement will make a submission to the Department. We will base on our research and experience of dealing with schools.

If you would like your experience of exclusions included in this report we can ensure this information is handled sensitively and anonymously.  

We would like to document not just formal exclusions, but also informal exclusions – where children were sent home from school without any proper reason, or if a child left school due to unresolved issues, rather than face possible exclusion.

Also, if the school recommended your child leave school and suggested alternative provision or home education to be more suitable, we would also like to include this information.

If you would like to ring us to talk through your experiences with schools we will handle the information with discretion.

Please send information to or ring 0207 607 2002.