Children’s Homes and School Exclusion: Redefining the Problem

By Isabelle Brodie.

Jessica Kingsley Publishers


ISBN 185302 943 2

Children in public care are 10 times more vulnerable to
exclusion than those living with their own families. Any realistic
hope of meeting the Quality Protects targets of greater stability
and bringing educational outcomes for looked-after children closer
to those of children generally must depend on keeping them in
mainstream schooling. Yet effective ways of avoiding exclusion seem
persistently elusive.

This timely book offers a sociological and historical analysis
of the problem, providing a frame for a detailed qualitative study
of 17 boys in residential care who were excluded. All had suffered
stressful experiences, including severe abuse, in their family
lives and their fragmented care careers had led to many changes of
school. The familiar themes of disrupted learning, ill-prepared
placements and poor communication recur in their histories.

Isabelle Brodie shows that exclusion is seldom an event but more
often a complex process by which a consensus develops among a group
of professionals and carers that the child cannot be contained in
mainstream school. Well-meaning actions, such as withdrawing
children from the classroom when they show signs of stress, may
contribute to the inevitable.

Residential carers and social workers, Brodie suggests, are too
ready to assume that the school’s version of events is the whole
story. They often respond to suspensions and exclusions with
acquiescence when what the child needs is vigorous advocacy.

This excellent book will be of interest to anyone who is
concerned to improve educational opportunities for young people in
care and is essential reading for designated teachers and
educational psychologists. It offers a valuable insight into the
systemic nature of a problem that is too often attributed to the
emotional and behavioural difficulties of individual children.

Sonia Jackson is research professor, University of Wales
Swansea and editor of Nobody Ever Told Us School Mattered:
Raising the Educational Attainments of Children in Care

(British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering, 2001)

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