RESEARCH. A Multi-Agency Approach to Reducing Disaffection and Exclusions from School. Rosemary Webb and Graham Vulliamy University of York

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1 RESEARCH A Multi-Agency Approach to Reducing Disaffection and Exclusions from School Rosemary Webb and Graham Vulliamy University of York Research Report RR568

2 Research Report No 568 A Multi-Agency Approach to Reducing Disaffection and Exclusions from School Rosemary Webb and Graham Vulliamy University of York The views expressed in this report are the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department for Education and Skills. University of York 2004 ISBN X

3 Acknowledgements We should like to express our appreciation to the many people whose co-operation was essential to conducting this evaluation of the Home Office-funded project Meeting Need and Challenging Crime in Partnership with Schools. Firstly, to the headteachers for facilitating our fieldwork within the seven schools and, secondly, to the many teachers who agreed to be interviewed or have their lessons observed by members of the evaluation team. We should also like to thank all those pupils and their families who agreed to be interviewed. We are grateful to members of the Advisory Group for their co-operation throughout the project particular mention should be made here of the Project Co-ordinator for his helpful support throughout the three years and also of the North Yorkshire Police representative for providing us with detailed data concerning offences committed by a sample of pupils. Many agency members from Education, Social Services, the Police and Health gave up their time to be interviewed or to help us in other ways, for which we are grateful. Christine Lehman and Lorna Smith from the Home Office Programme Development Unit were a constant source of advice and support throughout the project and our thanks go to them. Finally, we should like to thank Sheila Sudworth, research officer on the evaluation team, who shared the fieldwork with us. Dr Rosemary Webb and Professor Graham Vulliamy Department of Educational Studies University of York ii

4 Contents Page Acknowledgements Abbreviations Preface Executive Summary ii v vi vii 1. Introduction 1 The rise in exclusions 1 Exclusions and the link with offending 2 Project aims and structure 3 The project schools 4 Structure of the report 5 2. The evaluation methodology 7 Data sources 7 Assessing the impact of the project on school exclusion rates 9 Access, feedback and project development The role of the home-school support worker 12 Aspects of the role 12 Issues in project implementation 18 Conclusion Caseload pupils 26 Choosing the caseload 26 Characteristics of the total sample of caseload pupils 26 Four pupil portrayals 28 Conclusion Reducing exclusions and challenging crime 41 The impact of the project on exclusion rates 41 Pupil offending profiles 47 School pupil population offences 48 Offences by a sample of caseload pupils 52 Offences of a sample after leaving the caseload 52 Conclusion 53 iii

5 6. Inter-agency working 54 The role of the Advisory Group 54 School-based meetings 55 School-focussed agencies 56 External agencies 59 Benefits of inter-agency working 63 Factors hindering inter-agency working 65 Conclusion Project impact on teachers, parents and pupils 67 The view from the schools 67 Parents views of the project 74 The caseload pupils speak for themselves 77 Conclusion Implications for practice and replication 85 Costs and benefits for replication 85 Project mechanisms 87 Project dissemination 89 Promoting inter-agency working 89 Conclusion 90 References 92 iv

6 Abbreviations ABH ADHD DfEE ESW FE GCSE GEST GP HOY IT LEA OFSTED PDU PRU PSA SEN SENCO Y Actual bodily harm Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Department for Education and Employment Education social worker Further education General certificate of secondary education Grants for educational support and training General practitioner Head of year Information technology Local education authority Office for Standards in Education Programme Development Unit (Home Office) Pupil referral unit Pupil support assistant Special educational needs Special educational needs co-ordinator Year group (as in eg Y8 pupil) v

7 Preface This report is a result of work funded by the Home Office but is being published by the Department for Education and Skills following changes in both policy ownership and to the machinery of Government. Although the report was submitted to the Home Office in February 2000 and relates to a project that was operational between 1996 and 1999, the messages are still relevant today given the importance of tackling the risk factors for poor education outcomes, anti-social behaviour and crime through early intervention. The research provides an in-depth case study of multi-agency approaches to reducing disaffection and exclusions from school and the report was influential in the development of the government s extended schools policy. vi

8 Executive Summary Introduction The Home Office-funded project on Meeting Need and Challenging Crime in Partnership with Schools, that is the subject of this evaluation report, placed five fulltime social work trained home-school support workers in seven secondary schools for three years to support pupils at risk of exclusion. Prior to the project, there was much concern about rising levels of permanent exclusions from English schools. Correlations between exclusions from school and offending have been established in a number of surveys. The rationale for the project was that, by reducing rates of exclusion, future offending behaviour might be reduced. The project that was located in four urban areas of North Yorkshire and in the city of York, had two main aims. These were: to reduce the number of exclusions from school of youngsters with challenging behaviours; and to ensure a cohesive local authority response to their needs. The project was steered by a multi-agency Advisory Group. The Pupil and Parent Support Services in North Yorkshire and the York Education Service managed the project administratively. Day to day management of the support worker was the responsibility of the schools. The evaluation methodology A qualitative evaluation methodology was used to portray and interpret project processes and to document both intended and unintended outcomes. Data collection techniques were qualitative and quantitative, including interviews, observations, questionnaires and the creation of a data base on exclusions and offending for the project schools. The role of the home-school support worker Casework with between ten and twenty pupils with challenging behaviours formed the core of the support workers' role. They also managed behavioural crises caused by pupils outside the caseload. An original project intention was to support pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties in the feeder primary schools. In practice this was largely prevented by the demands of meeting the needs of secondary pupils. Through their casework and crisis management support workers contributed to developing a school environment more tolerant of pupils with challenging behaviours. They had little direct influence on policies relating to school behaviour and exclusions. A number of development activities were trialled by the support workers, although owing to the breadth of the job description time for this work was limited. vii

9 Alternative curricula in the form of lessons outside school and work experience were arranged for caseload pupils. Key factors which affected project implementation were: communication about the project to teachers; support of the head and senior management; the clash between teachers' and social workers' cultures; and the provision of an office. Caseload pupils Over the duration of the project a total of 208 pupils were in the support workers' caseloads of whom 62% were male and 38% female. The choice of which pupils should be in the caseload was made by senior management within the schools. About half the caseload was consistently drawn from school years 9 and 10. Nearly three-quarters of the caseload pupils did not live with their two parents. Threequarters of them caused disruption in class and half of them had offended. In-depth portrayals of four of the caseload pupils show that support workers can make a considerable difference to the school experience and lives of such youngsters. The portrayals also reveal the deep seated causes and complexity of the youngsters' problems and the need for support to be intensive and consistently available over long periods of time. Reducing exclusions and challenging crime In the view of those staff working closely with caseload pupils, support workers considerably reduced the numbers of fixed-term exclusions. Over the duration of the project 26 caseload pupils were saved from permanent exclusion, representing a 25% reduction in permanent exclusions across the project schools. Offending patterns for the pupil populations of the seven schools were analysed. Approximately three-quarters of the offences were committed by males. The peak school age for offending behaviour was 14 years. Acquisitive property offences constituted the highest proportion of offences followed by violent offences. The offending profile of a 25% sample of caseload pupils was analysed. This provided further evidence to support the link between permanent exclusion and subsequent offending and also suggested that involvement in the support workers caseloads had little or no impact on reducing caseload pupils offending whilst they were still at school. Inter-agency working Over the duration of the project support for Advisory Group meetings declined. The Advisory Group had minimal involvement in the promotion of inter-agency cooperation at local level or in securing continued funding at the end of the three years. Support workers generally worked closely with members of the school-focussed agencies (Education Social Workers, Behaviour Support and Community Education). The latter shared closely related aims and agendas to those of the support workers and viii

10 were in a position to derive direct practical benefits from working co-operatively with them. The support workers' involvement with external agencies was predominantly with social workers from Social Service Departments, the Police and practitioners in the Health Services. Although at local level agency members were committed to the rhetoric of 'joined-up solutions', in practice co-operative working was limited by lack of time, pressure of work, different priorities, issues of confidentiality and insufficient knowledge of the project. Support workers speeded up the provision of pupil assessments and support. They identified gaps in service provision and sought support from appropriate external agencies. This created additional work for individual agency members who already had heavy commitments. Support workers acted as a 'go-between' for the school and the agencies working with caseload pupils. They also provided both teachers and agency workers with information about each other's organisations, perspectives and working practices. The decreasing budgets, services and status of LEAs, the increasing autonomy of schools and the impact of government reforms and marketisation on the external agencies imposed severe constraints on inter-agency working at local authority level. Project impact on teachers, parents and pupils During the first year teachers identified a range of benefits derived from the project. In six of the seven schools these were steadily consolidated through the duration of the project. In one school negative views of the project increased as the clash between teaching and social work cultures intensified. This was resolved in the final year following a change in the support worker. Teachers increasingly valued support workers for their casework with pupils with challenging behaviours and their work with families which resulted in parents, who were previously alienated from school, coming to meet teachers. Support workers saved time for senior management by counselling pupils and liasing with parents and reduced the interruptions to their other duties caused by behavioural crises. Parents and carers viewed support workers as unique in their access to information about youngsters' lives at school, their independence and the unconditional nature of the help that they provided. The most commonly cited benefits were: improved home-school communication; the provision of additional support for the youngsters within school; practical advice on behaviour management at home; support for the whole family; and mobilising other agencies into providing services. Pupils found support workers helped them to avert exclusion, supported them through fixed-term exclusions and helped them to re-integrate into school. 'Being there for ix

11 them' was the most valued aspect of the role. Other benefits cited included: preventing confrontational situations in lessons from escalating; assistance with schoolwork; improving relationships between them and their parents; and preventing bullying. Implications for practice and replication Given the amount of time that support workers saved senior management and that social work pay scales are considerably less than teachers (and about half that of senior management), schools can make significant potential savings in costs by having a support worker. Reductions in permanent exclusions result in considerable financial savings for the Education Service and other agencies. Averting exclusions also reduces unmeasurable human costs to pupils and their families. School innovation becomes accepted and institutionalised at a very slow pace where not only the practices but also the attitudes of participants need to change. The experience of this three-year project suggests that, for this reason, it was more costeffective than one-year projects with similar objectives. Key lessons for replication were: the importance of the support workers being on the school staff and based in schools; the support and involvement of the headteacher and senior management; and effective communication of the work of the project. Conflicts, which arose with members of other agencies concerning role overlap and duplication of work, emphasised: the importance of role clarity and negotiation; mechanisms for sharing information; and strategies at strategic and local level to enable the rhetoric of co-operation to be translated into practice. x

12 Chapter 1: Introduction The three-year Home Office-funded project on Meeting Need and Challenging Crime in Partnership with Schools, that is the subject of this evaluation report, placed social work trained home-school support workers in secondary schools to support pupils at risk of exclusion and keep them in mainstream education. Thus it provided targeted assistance to those youngsters whose challenging behaviour and disaffection from school were indicators of the possibility of future offending. This introduction examines the explanations given for the rise in exclusions from school and the link between exclusions and offending behaviour that provided the rationale for the project. It then provides a brief overview of the project and the participating schools. The rise in exclusions Exclusions refer to the process whereby a teacher either suspends a pupil from a school for a set number of days (fixed-term) or expels a pupil permanently. Government statistics, and most research to date, has focussed mainly on permanent exclusions. In the five years prior to the inception of the project the reported rate of permanent exclusions from English schools had exhibited a more than four-fold increase from about 3,000 in to about 13,500 in , although there is considerable doubt about the reliability of these figures in the early 1990s (Parsons, 1999, pp.22-23). Blyth and Milner summarise the research evidence as indicating that those who are at a disproportionate risk of exclusion are: 'secondary school-age pupils, boys (especially African-Caribbean boys); pupils with special educational needs; and children and young people in local authority care' (1996, p.5). A variety of explanations has been given for rising school exclusions. Some of these focus on changing characteristics of pupils and their families. For example, Rutter and Smith (1995) suggest that there is evidence of increased incidence of child psychiatric disorder in the post-war period and Rutter (1991) refers to social factors such as unemployment, poverty and family breakdown as having a more marked detrimental effect on children now than in the recent past. Bennathan (1992) refers to the steep rise in the number of divorces, single parent families and reconstituted families, and also in the known incidence of sexual abuse, as important contributory factors in the rise in exclusions. Deteriorating home circumstances and lack of parental discipline feature strongly in surveys of teachers' opinions as to the reasons for rising exclusion rates (see, for example, NUT, 1992; NAHT, 1994). However, increasing teacher complaints concerning pupils' discipline and behaviour could be heard throughout the 1980s, culminating in the Elton Report on discipline in schools (DES/WO, 1989); given also that there has been widespread evidence of growing social problems since the early 1980s associated with an increasing gulf between the rich and the poor in Britain (see, for example, Andrews and Jacobs, 1990; Robinson and Gregson, 1992; Craig 1992; and Cohen and Coxall, 1992), it is not a convincing explanation for the four-fold increase in the 1990s. Educational researchers look to alternative explanations which stress the fact that schools are increasingly unwilling or unable to cope with children with 'challenging' behaviour. This, in turn, is related to the changing culture of schools associated with the effects of the 1988 Education Reform Act, together with the ensuing decline in resources from LEA support services. 1

13 The introduction of open enrolment and a market structure of state schooling, whereby school budgets are overwhelmingly determined by pupil numbers and parental choice is influenced by league tables of examination results, means that, as Parrfrey (1994, p.108) puts it, no one wants 'naughty children'. Moreover, the increased workload for teachers associated with other aspects of the Education Reform Act is leading to fundamental shifts in the culture of schools, both at secondary level (Ball, 1994; Gewirtz et al., 1995) and at primary level (Webb and Vulliamy, 1996; Woods et al., 1997). Two aspects of this shift are, firstly, increased time spent on managerial tasks and on policy production and monitoring, especially in preparation for OFSTED inspections, and, secondly, a strong emphasis on the academic side of the school at the expense of the pastoral side. Hayden (1997, p.7) notes that whilst government policies are 'driven by a desire to reorganise the system in a way which creates pressure to increase measurable academic outputs', this conflicts with other policies, such as the increasing integration of children with special educational needs into mainstream schools and the reduction in residential care and out-of-county placements. Thus, teachers are faced with higher proportions of pupils with challenging behaviours in schools, but at a time when their other work pressures preclude the time needed to deal with them. A further consequence of the market structure of schooling has been a dramatic decline in the resources available to LEAs for the central provision of education welfare services. Sinclair et al. (1994) argue that formula funding has the effect of 'transferring funds from disadvantaged schools as the positive discrimination of the LEA is no longer possible' (p.284) and that as a consequence 'vulnerable children will increasingly fall through the education system as the role of the LEA is weakened and replaced by market forces' (p.286). In addition, Kinder et al. (1995), in their study of 'School Attendance, Truancy and Exclusion', found that pupil disaffection was strongly related to the perceived lack of relevance of the school curriculum, where the National Curriculum had terminated 'key curriculum and assessment initiatives which schools had developed to meet the particular and often more vocational needs of lower-attaining pupils in the last two years of compulsory schooling' (p.15). Exclusions and the link with offending Correlations between exclusions from school and offending have been established in a number of surveys. For example, the Audit Commission's (1996) survey of young offenders found that 42% had been excluded from school and a further 23% had 'truanted significantly' (p.66), whilst Graham and Bowling's (1995) survey of self reported offending found that almost all boys and nearly two-thirds of girls excluded from school admitted some type of offence. Such correlations do not in themselves establish a causal link between exclusion and subsequent offending. Thus, for example, some youngsters begin offending before being excluded and others begin offending long after a permanent exclusion. However, qualitative research studies based on in-depth interviews with offenders (for example, Cullingford and Morrison, 1996) and with permanently excluded school pupils (Kinder et al., 1999) suggest the strong likelihood of such a causal link for some offenders. Police experience is also relevant here, although the limited evidence which exists on this point suggests regional differences. On the one hand, for example, Gilbertson (1998) reports that in the Metropolitan Police District in 1997 'over one third of juvenile offences are committed during school periods by those who have been traunting, excluded from school, or who are unplaced' and that 'juvenile offenders arrested for committing offences during school hours accounted for over 5% of the total number of offenders, of all ages, arrested' (p.26); on the other hand, 2

14 Learmonth (1995) reports a Derbyshire police analysis which revealed that 'very few crimes involve school age persons during school hours' (p.65). The subsequent cost of excluded pupils' offending can be very large. For example, Pritchard and Fox's (1998) analysis of a complete cohort ( ) of 227 'excluded from school adolescents' who had been in 'special educational provision' found that 63% had a criminal conviction as young adults (16-23 years). A cautious estimate of the total cost to the public purse of these 143 offenders over a six-year period was over 4 million, averaging nearly a head. Projects aims and structure This section provides the aims of the project and outlines the nature of its work and how it was managed. This outline is augmented by the account of the support workers' role and the factors promoting and constraining project implementation provided in Chapter Three. The project which was located in four urban areas of North Yorkshire and in the city of York, had two main aims. These were: to reduce the number of exclusions from school of youngsters with challenging behaviours; and to ensure a cohesive local authority response to their needs. In order to achieve these aims, five full-time school-based home-school support workers began work in seven schools during the Autumn Term of Two of the support workers were each based in one secondary school, two serviced two schools each and one was based in an middle school. The job description for the support workers covered the following primary tasks: carry out casework with young people (up to a maximum of 10 pupils at any one time); support younger siblings and families of caseload pupils; provide an immediate response to within school crises that could lead to exclusion; address problems posed by primary age pupils who have emotional behavioural difficulties; help in establishing whole school policies on behaviour; instigate development work; build effective links with Social Services, Health and other agencies. Funding for the three-year project was provided by a 270,000 grant from the Programme Development Unit (PDU) in the Home Office. This grant covered the salaries of the support 3

15 workers, a day-a-week component of the salary of the project co-ordinator, who held a senior position in North Yorkshire's LEA, and expenses such as the support workers' travel. The schools were responsible for other project overheads, such as office and phone. Support worker staffing was stable throughout the project in four of the seven schools. There was a change of support worker in the middle school at the beginning of the third year and in one of the two-school locations, the first support worker left after Easter in the second year and, following a temporary under-qualified replacement, a permanent replacement was made during the first term of the final year. The Pupil and Parent Support Services in North Yorkshire and the York Education Support Services managed the project administratively. The project co-ordinator had oversight and co-ordination of the project in all areas and was the first point of contact for the evaluation and the PDU. He had two main roles in relation to the support workers. The first was to reduce the isolation that they experienced because they held a unique position in their schools with different demands from other staff. This was addressed mainly by facilitating regular meetings (approximately once a month during term time) between the support workers. The second role was to intervene if and when difficulties arose. For example, early on in the implementation of the project he visited one school to clarify the support worker's role when problems arose because another staff member was given overlapping responsibilities and in another area he liaised with Social Services when the support worker inadvertently caused offence at local level. Day to day management of the support worker was the responsibility of the schools which at the outset of the project assigned a member of the senior management team, usually a deputy headteacher, to liaise regularly with the support worker and oversee the implementation of the project. Senior education social workers (ESWs) in each area were asked to make themselves available to the support workers to provide support and advice with their casework. However, the frequency of meetings between the support workers and the senior ESWs to whom they were assigned varied considerably on a continuum from a minimum of about once every six weeks to a maximum of weekly sessions. At the outset of the project an Advisory Group was set up which, in addition to representatives from the Pupil and Parent Support Services in North Yorkshire and York Education Support Services included senior representatives from Social Services, Health, Probation, Police and the PDU. These agencies were supportive of the project's aims and their representatives viewed as in a position to facilitate its impact at local level, disseminate project outcomes and possibly to assist in securing funding for the continuance of the support workers after the end of the project. On 10 December 1996 the project was officially launched by an 'away day' for all the project participants project developers, members of the Advisory Group, support workers, the headteachers and the chairs of governors of the seven participating schools. The project schools Deciding how to recruit schools for the project posed the Pupil and Parent Support Services with a dilemma because in the current competitive climate they rightly anticipated that, while schools might appreciate the assistance provided by a support worker, they would not wish to be identified as experiencing difficulties with pupil behaviour. Schools were selected for inclusion in the project according to indicators such as pupils' eligibility for free school meals, numbers of permanent exclusions and the numbers of pupils referred to the Youth 4

16 Liaison Panel having committed an offence. Table 1 provides contextual data for the project schools (at the mid point of the three-year project), which are referred to throughout the report by the pseudonyms introduced here. The situation of the schools was also a criterion for selection for example, Rylands and Hilltown admitted a high proportion of their pupils from socially deprived areas and were undersubscribed at the time of writing the proposal and so received pupils excluded from elsewhere. Elmtree and Seaford were on large estates known locally for their social deprivation and crime rates. These schools were then approached and it was explained to the headteachers why it was considered that a support worker would be particularly advantageous to their school. This method of recruiting project schools through persuasion rather than inviting schools to apply to participate in the project meant that to varying degrees schools viewed themselves as assisting the Pupil and Parent Support Services rather than being the successful recipients of sought after additional resources. Table 2 provides relevant contextual data for the two project LEAs. Two points are worthy of comment here. Firstly, both LEAs are low excluding ones. North Yorkshire s permanent exclusion percentage is in the lowest 10% LEA group nationally and York's figure is below the 0.37% average for unitary LEA authorities (DfEE, 1999). Average figures for Inner London LEAs, a group with high indices of pupil social deprivation, are given by way of comparison. African- Caribbean pupils, a group whose permanent exclusion rate is over four times the national average (DfEE, 1999), are conspicuous by their absence in the project LEA schools. Secondly, despite the generally low levels of indices of social deprivation, especially in North Yorkshire s which has a relatively high proportion of its schools in rural areas, the market structure of schooling initiated by the 1988 Education Reform Act has resulted in a very stratified system of schooling (see also Gewirtz et al., 1995; Whitty et al., 1998). Thus, as Table 1 indicates, there are individual schools which, in comparison with the average for their LEAs, have almost three times as many pupils eligible for free school meals and over twice as many on the SEN [special educational needs] register. Structure of the report Having provided an overview of the project, Chapter Two discusses the evaluation methodology. Chapter Three portrays 'what support workers actually do'. Chapter Four profiles the pupils making up the caseloads of the support workers and looks in detail at the experiences of four of the youngsters. In terms of the evaluation the project had three core elements: reducing exclusions and thereby challenging crime; developing inter-agency links to promote co-ordinated responses to meet youngsters' needs and the perceived project outcomes of the participating teachers, parents and pupils. Chapters Five to Seven focus specifically on each of these themes, although acknowledging their inter-relatedness. Finally, Chapter Eight brings together lessons learned from the project for the purposes of replication. 5

17 Table 1: Contextual data for project schools ( year) School Number of pupils Free School Meals (%) Pupils on SEN register (%) Statemented Pupils (%) Number of pupils on child protection register A-C at GCSE (%) Permanently excluded pupils (%) Bradley Castleigh Colgrove Not applicable 0.48 Elmtree Hilltown Rylands Seaford Table 2: Contextual data for project LEAs (English secondary schools: year) LEA Free School Meals Pupils on SEN register Statemented Pupils Permanently excluded All Schools Inner London North Yorkshire York Sources: DfEE (1998b, 1998c, 1999) 6

18 Chapter 2: The Evaluation Methodology The evaluation design needed to focus upon both the processes and the outcomes of the project and provide the necessary detail of what actually happened in the project to provide a plausible explanation of project outcomes. A qualitative evaluation methodology was adopted, influenced by the 'illuminate evaluation' approach (Parlett and Hamilton, 1977) that has proved influential in the study of school-based innovations. This employs a variety of qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques. A major strength of such a research strategy is its flexibility in adapting to unanticipated outcomes of project development. The management of change literature suggests that the unintended consequences of school-based innovations are often as important as the intended ones and that the neglect of the actual change process in traditional pre- and post-test evaluation designs has militated against the depth of understanding required to replicate the processes of a 'successful' project or to learn from an 'unsuccessful' one (Fullan, 1991). Data sources The main data sources for the evaluation are listed below: 120 pre-arranged semi-structured interviews with teachers (key members of senior management and pastoral staff were interviewed two or more times). There were also 35 interviews with members of local agencies, 12 with members of the Project Advisory Group, 25 with caseload pupils, 22 with parents/carers of caseload pupils, and interviews with all 8 support workers. These interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed with the exception of the parent interviews, which took place in pupils' homes, detailed notes from which were written up immediately afterwards. Informal interviews conducted in schools with teachers, pupils and support workers during the process of school-based observation and with agency personnel during project meetings and 'away-days'. School-based observation where a series of days was devoted in each school to observation of lessons involving selected caseload pupils. In some schools there was also more extensive observation of relevant activities including, for example, staff meetings and extra-curricular pupil pursuits. Support workers in each school were shadowed, thus allowing observation of their activities throughout an entire day. A teacher questionnaire (N=266) and a pupil questionnaire (N=486) conducted in all 7 schools. The teacher questionnaire (given to all teachers in the schools) was used across the seven schools mainly to identify school-specific issues whereas data from the pupil questionnaire were analysed using SPSS principally for whole sample variables (such as age and gender) across the 7 schools (using a sample of year 7 and year 10 pupils in each school). 7

19 Analysis of school documents, such as prospectuses, student handbooks, and behaviour and discipline policies. Documentation provided by the support workers. This included: providing relevant details of pupils in their caseload by completing termly a form devised by the evaluation team in consultation with the support workers; estimates of non-salary costs of the project by logging over a two-weekly period all their photocopying, telephone calls and travel costs; and completing a one-week diary of their activities in three different terms. The collection of data from schools and LEAs on numbers of fixed-term and permanent exclusions and on relevant contextual school features, such as school pupil numbers and numbers of statemented pupils and of those on the child protection register. Fieldnotes derived from participation in relevant project meetings. These included regular meetings of the support workers, some of which were with the project co-ordinator, and Advisory Group meetings. Collating and analysing 145 forms issued by the police for young people who have committed an offence in those localities in which the schools were situated. Official police statistics on offending were not appropriate, partly because they were grouped in relatively large regions (such as a city or a town); partly because they included only convictions and cautions and partly because they did not include the younger age groups. Analysis of relevant research-based literature on themes such as school exclusions and inter-agency working. A large amount of data was collected and analysed, only a small fraction of which can be presented in this report. Most of the data generated were qualitative in nature (fieldnotes and transcribed interviews) and these were analysed using the 'constant comparison' method of category generation and saturation derived from the work of Glaser and Strauss (1967); such procedures are described in Vulliamy and Webb (1992). Central to such qualitative data collection and analysis is the process of triangulation, whereby, for example, different data collection methods are used to cross-check each other and perspectives on an event are sought from a variety of different groups. Extending such a principle to the collection of relevant quantitative information from the schools and the LEAs revealed that much of the basic information such as characteristics of the school pupil populations and numbers of official exclusions often taken for granted in both research studies and school inspection reports by OFSTED (the Office for Standards in Education) were very unreliable. Thus, for example, data given to us by schools on the proportions of their pupils who were statemented or who were eligible for free school meals sometimes differed markedly from those given to us by the LEAs. In one LEA the same data were requested on two separate occasions with some of the resulting figures differing substantially. Where there was such lack of agreement between three sets of figures, the data from the schools were taken (as in Table 1 which gives contextual data for the project schools) since most of the LEA data were originally supplied by the schools. 8

20 Assessing the impact of the project on school exclusion rates Of the two central aims of the project, it might be thought that one of them the effect on exclusions was susceptible to reliable and valid measurement. However, attempts to assess the impact of the project on schools' exclusion rates presented a variety of conceptual and methodological problems in addition to the lack of reliability of the official figures on fixed-term and permanent exclusions provided either by the schools or the LEAs. As argued in detail elsewhere (Vulliamy and Webb, 2000), official rates of fixed-term and permanent exclusions are 'social constructions' which pose major problems of validity in the interpretation of differential rates. Such official figures are widely regarded by researchers as considerable underestimates of the actual numbers of pupils excluded from school, either temporarily or permanently, and the practice of schools and LEAs carefully 'laundering' their truancy and exclusions figures has been privately admitted (see, for example, Cullingford, 1999, p.115). There is also widespread evidence of pupils being forced to transfer schools but without any official permanent exclusion taking place. Sometimes this is done in an interschool collegiate spirit where a school agrees to admit a pupil 'in order to avert an exclusion from another school' (SHA, 1992, p.1). Increasingly, however, given the stratified nature of the state schooling system resulting from competition associated with open enrolment, the practice seems to be growing of, as OSTED (1996, p.21) puts it, '"inviting" parents to find another school, in lieu of exclusion'. Over-subscribed schools concerned to preserve their image and good position in league tables may resort to threatening children with exclusion 'as a means of "persuading" their parents to "voluntarily" withdraw them from the school' (Gewirtz et al., 1995, p.158). As the researchers note, this results in undersubscribed schools being 'faced with having to support disproportionate numbers of socially and educationally vulnerable children' (p.160), a situation that characterised some of our project schools which were required to take pupils who had already been permanently excluded from other schools. This is one reason why the same behaviour in the form of the forced removal of a pupil from a school may or may not count towards the school's 'permanent exclusion rate'. A second reason is that there is differential use in different schools within an LEA, and at the national level between different LEAs, of arrangements which ensure that schools no longer have to teach a given pupil but without imposing the stigma of an official 'permanent exclusion'. Such arrangements involve the use of one or more of the following (sometimes in combination): work experience packages, classes at a further education college, and dual registration at a pupil referral unit. In these cases pupils remain on the school roll, although they may be required to spend little time at the school. In other cases, the pupil may be formally removed from the school and placed in a special school without any official exclusion taking place (whereas in a different school the same 'challenging' behaviour may require a permanent exclusion to trigger a placement in a special school). Attempts to measure the effectiveness of the project in terms of its impact on schools' exclusion rates would have been invalid for at least two reasons: firstly, the unreliability and invalidity of the rates themselves and, secondly, the impossibility of establishing causal connections to any correlations even if reliable figures could be produced. Such problems could not have been overcome by the use of control groups. 9

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