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Statement in response to the government’s external review on exclusions

Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families said,

“We warmly welcome the Government’s external review of exclusions and its aim to transform Alternative Provision. There is a great need to address this matter and to provide support for children whose behaviour often masks complex needs and becomes a barrier to their full participation in the education process.

“We wholeheartedly support the Government’s commitment to an evidence-based approach focused on high quality teaching to support children back into school and to sustain their return to school.

“The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families has set up and supports The Family School, a setting which works with young children – mostly aged 13 and under - who have been excluded from school. We work with children and their families together to achieve a quick and sustainable return to mainstream school. The work is intensive, multifaceted and with a unique educational approach to meet the educational needs of each child. The school is unusual in inviting parents as partners into the school forging a strong collaboration to support the child’s learning.

“The Family School has an excellent record of returning children to school. And those who return, stay. This is because throughout the child’s attendance the families have been closely involved in helping their children change their behaviour and the parents observe and learn how to support the child’s education. Thus the change goes beyond the classroom. The close involvement of the parent in the school’s life means that when children leave school their progress continues to be supported at home.

“As well as making sure that children with complex needs have the support they need to get their lives back on track, we need to look at how we support mainstream schools and school staff in t with these issues.

“The Green Paper makes important recommendations about helping schools to address mental health issues more effectively. We are hopeful that a combined strategy, of improving services for excluded children and helping prevent exclusions, will give children the best chance to overcome their difficulties and lead full and fulfilling lives.”