Children’s Homes and School Exclusion: Redefining the Problem

    By Isabelle Brodie.

    Jessica Kingsley Publishers

    £16.95

    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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