A Critical Analysis of Pupil Behaviour

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Education


This research project will focus on alternatives to school exclusion in England. Since 2012/ 13 exclusions from schools in England had been steadily increasing, peaking at 7,894 permanent exclusions and 438,265 fixed term exclusions in the 2018/ 19 academic year. However, the most recent data taken from the 2019/ 20 academic year shows instances of permanent exclusions and fixed term exclusions have both decreased, with the figures standing at 5,057 and 310,733 respectively (DfE, 2021) - it is important to note that this data was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent closure of schools. The pandemic brought to the fore concerns regarding the 'lost learning' of children unable to attend school (Ofsted, 2020; Adams, 2021; EEF, 2021) yet the lost learning of excluded pupils has never received such attention in the media and public discourse. The extent to which exclusion is used as a behaviour management tool in the English education system provides the fundamental basis of the rationale for this research - but it goes further than this. Official Department for Education statistics show that certain groups of pupils are more likely to experience exclusion from school namely; Black Caribbean pupils, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils, boys, pupils eligible for Free School Meals (FSM), and pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN) especially where there is no education health and care plan (EHCP) (DfE, 2021). Furthermore, alternative provision is often considered to be a positive change for excluded pupils, perhaps even a solution to the problem, such views were clearly articulated in the Timpson review of school exclusion (Timpson, 2019). Conversely, it is well known that of pupils enrolled in alternative provision fewer than 2% achieve what is considered to be a good pass in maths and English (Hutchinson, 2020). As such, the desire to expand provision that is ineffective and disproportionately accommodates the groups of pupils mentioned above could be seen as an attempt to 'market the marginalised' (Perera, 2020).
This research will take a fixed sequential exploratory approach to research design, involving semi-structured interviews with educational professionals working in alternative education settings and a survey of young people who have experienced exclusion from mainstream education in England.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000711/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
2401512 Studentship ES/P000711/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2024 Megan Whitehouse