Freedom to exclude

    MPs on the education select committee are right to highlight
    concern over the schooling of looked-after children. It remains a
    disgrace that 47 per cent of these young people leave school
    without a single GCSE to their name (compared with about 11 per
    cent in the general population).

    And it’s hard to see how the new freedoms for schools set out in
    the government’s five-year education plan are going to do anything
    to help this already disadvantaged group. With local education
    authorities stripped of so many of their powers, who is going to
    make sure that schools are inclusive when they are able to operate
    their own admissions policy?

    Without legislative backing, existing voluntary guidance urging
    schools to treat vulnerable children equally and work with other
    agencies to help them could fall by the wayside.

    While some schools have an excellent record when it comes to
    addressing the needs of disadvantaged pupils others have shown
    little enthusiasm for it. Extended schools or no extended schools,
    it remains open to question whether those institutions that have
    been hung up on educational attainment to the exclusion of all else
    will ever fully engage in the children’s services reforms agenda.

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