Think tank set to challenge school admissions policies

A month after the government launched a consultation on school admissions procedures, an influential think-tank looks set to recommend that all schools should take their share of looked-after and excluded pupils.

The Institute for Public Policy Research will recommend the changes to admissions procedures when it publishes new research next month, as well as calling for a rethink on the national curriculum and a new approach to the way schools deal with challenging behaviour.

The research, seen by 0-19, finds that current admissions policies often mean there are wide variations in schools’ intake, with many taking in a disproportionately large number of challenging children. This, together with the pressure on headteachers to turn a school around and the emphasis on academic achievement, contribute to higher exclusion levels.

The report suggests that schools need to make improving behaviour a priority and foster a relationship of mutual respect with students. Securing staff buy-in and parental support for school behaviour policies, and targeting resources specifically at measures to improve behaviour, are also important.

The IPPR will urge policy makers to rethink exclusions policies too, and to focus on building good relationships with all stakeholders in the education system.

A rethink on some broader policy issues, for example the national curriculum, competition between schools and the pressure teachers are under, is also likely to be recommended.

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