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9 October 2019

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Professor Ian Thompson awarded £2.55m for research into impact of UK school exclusions

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has awarded a grant of £2,550,850 to conduct first-time multi-disciplinary research on the consequences of school exclusions across the UK.

The four-year project will be led by St Hugh’s fellow Professor Ian Thompson and Professor Harry Daniels at the University of Oxford’s Department of Education. The research will provide a greater understanding of the cost of exclusions at individual, institutional and system level, as well as pupils’ rights, entitlements, protection and wellbeing, and the landscapes of exclusion across the UK’s four jurisdictions.

As part of this research, home versus international comparisons of historical and current policy, practice and legal frameworks relating to school exclusion will be conducted for the first time.

Ian Thompson, Associate Professor of English Education and Director of PGCE at Oxford commented: “Exclusions have long and short-term consequences in terms of academic achievement, well-being, mental health, and future prospects. Previous research and official statistics show that school exclusions are also far more likely to affect pupils with special needs, from low income families, and some ethnic backgrounds.”

Preliminary work conducted by the research team, which was first established in 2014, has illustrated that pressures on schools to perform well in examination league tables can lead to the exclusion of pupils whose predicted attainment would weaken overall school performance. As a consequence, pupils who do not conform to the rules can be excluded to the social margins of schooling.

The research is organised into three work strands: firstly, landscapes of exclusion; secondly, experiences of exclusion; and finally, integration.

The first strand examines the ways in which policies and legal frameworks shape interventions designed to prevent exclusions; the financial costs associated with exclusion; and patterns and characteristics of exclusion.

The experiences of exclusion strand focuses on families’, pupils’ and professionals’ experiences of the risks and consequences of exclusion.

The integration strand will integrate these findings to ensure that the learning is continuous as the research develops a coherent multi-disciplinary understanding of the political economies of exclusion.

These analyses will involve the cross-cutting themes of: children’s rights, youth crime, values and the role of religion, geographical context, gender and ethnicity, social class, special needs and disability, and mental health.

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