To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to provide for the education of children excluded from school during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1 February 2021
The government has made clear it will do whatever it takes to support children affected by COVID-19.
Good behaviour in schools is crucial if children are to learn and reach their full potential. As well as delivering excellent teaching, schools should be calm, orderly, and disciplined environments free from the low level disruption that prevents teachers from teaching, and pupils from learning.
The department supports head teachers using suspensions or expulsions where warranted. There is no right number of expulsions, but we are clear that expulsion should only be used as a last resort, and expulsion from school should not mean expulsion from a good quality education and support to reduce risk and vulnerability.
Children in alternative provision (AP) are some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged and we have prioritised supporting them while attendance at schools has been restricted. AP should remain open to vulnerable children and children of critical workers, recognising that the characteristics of the cohorts in alternative provision will mean these schools continue to offer face to face provision for all pupils, where appropriate. Our latest guidance for special schools specialist, post-16 providers and alternative provision during the national lockdown provided for expelled pupils: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/953215/Guidance_for_special_schools__specialist_post-16_providers_and_alternative_provision_during_the_national_lockdown.pdf.
Suitable full-time education must be arranged from the 6th school day of expulsion or suspension for pupils of compulsory school age. In the case of an expulsion, this is the duty of the local authority. Statutory guidance sets out that head teachers should take reasonable steps to ensure that work is set and marked for pupils during the first five school days of expulsion where the pupil will not be attending AP.
If a pupil is attending AP after being expelled, it is the duty of the local authority to arrange AP from the fifth day of the expulsion. Statutory guidance on the use of AP sets out that suitable education is that which appropriately meets the needs of pupils and gives them an education on par with mainstream schooling: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/alternative-provision.