This study aimed to establish whether, and to what extent, permanent exclusion from school had an independent effect upon the offending careers of 343 young people in six local authorities in England.
• The study analysed school and offending data held on official records as well as information from a number of voluntary sector ‘exclusion’ projects. A subset of 28 young people, together with a small group of six parents, were the subjects of in-depth interviews. The study was retrospective: in most cases the exclusionary episodes we analysed occurred over four years ago. This allowed an analysis of offending careers before, during and after their permanent exclusion from school.
• It is important to recognise that this was a retrospective study. The 343 young people had been excluded across a ten – year period, between 1988 and 1998, with the majority of exclusions occurring between 1994 and 1996. Consequently, it was not possible to take full account of the impact of the many initiatives relating to exclusion and truancy introduced following the Social Exclusion Unit’s report on truancy and school exclusion in 1998.
Reference: Berridge, D, Brodie, I, Pitts, J, Porteous, D and Tarling, R. (2001). The independent effects of permanent exclusion from school on the offending careers of young people. London: Home Office
This research was undertaken against the backcloth of a rapidly changing policy context. Although it is too soon to comment on the outcomes of the heightened policy emphasis and increased investment in the problems of children out of school, the attention being given to the issue is extremely positive.
Many of the initiatives in place are congruent with the findings of this study, including the focus on early intervention, better support for students with emotional and behavioural difficulties, and better planning at the point when problems are escalating (DfEE, 1999a). Recognition of the needs of specific groups, such as children looked after, is also an important step forward (DfEE, 2000). In terms of the focus of this study, the provision of alternative education for children out of school will also be crucial if the link between exclusion, non-school attendance and offending is to be broken.