DfE stats reveal that 1,067 primary school pupils were permanently excluded in 2018-19.

The Commission on Young Lives, launched in September 2021, is a year-long independent commission chaired by Anne Longfield, former Children’s Commissioner for England. ‘Its aim is to prevent crisis and improve the life chances of vulnerable young people risk of getting into trouble with the law.’

Today, the third Commission’s report ‘All Together Now: Inclusion not exclusion – supporting all young people to succeed in school’ has been published and amongst its proposals is ‘A ban on primary school exclusions from 2026, alongside support and resources for schools to provide specialist provision that keeps children on the school roll’.

Research shows that the outcomes from children and young people who are permanently excluded from school are very poor with 22% that have ever been excluded also cautioned or sentenced for a serious violence offence and 59% of children that had ever been permanently excluded were also cautioned and sentenced for an offense. (DfE and MoJ)

Is there a link between school exclusion and speech, language and communication needs?

‘Children with language disorders often lack verbal strategies to manage in the classroom and may only take in one or two words of what is being said to them. This can lead to failure following instructions which can be perceived as ‘naughty’ behaviour by the class teacher. Similarly, children with language disorders have difficulty following playground rules and often misinterpret jokes from peers as other children ‘making fun’. The frustration and inability to respond leads to more disruptive behaviour and increased risk for social, emotional and mental health problems in the long term.

(Professor Courtenay Norbury Professor of Language and Communication Disorders at University College London https://www.rcslt.org/wp-content/uploads/media/Project/RCSLT/exclusions-review-rcslt-written-evidence.pdf)

The longer that children wait to receive the right support, the greater the chance that their difficulties will limit their access to the curriculum and classroom learning. Children may also become more adept at masking their difficulties and, as a result, SLCN can be misidentified. Literacy difficulties, poor academic attainment, social and emotional problems and challenging behaviour are often more easily recognised than the underlying cause.

What can schools do?

Early identification of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) is essential. Our award-winning Language Link packages do this through standardised assessments, targeted intervention, online staff training and speech and language help desk support. Reports identify those children who should be referred to local speech and language therapy services.

Schools will benefit from staff who are knowledgeable about speech, language and communication development and how effective SLCN support can be implemented every day in all facets of school life. Pupils will benefit from the development of a communication-friendly environment with an increasing understanding of their needs and effective strategies to support them – potentially increasing their chances of remaining on the school roll.

Find out how our Language Link packages can help your pupils.

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