(Re)moving exclusions: School exclusion reduction in Glasgow and London

Billingham, Luke and Gillon, Fern (2023). (Re)moving exclusions: School exclusion reduction in Glasgow and London. British Educational Research Journal (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3925

Abstract

School exclusion reduction in Scotland—and especially in the city of Glasgow—has received substantial media and policy attention in recent years. In London in particular, multiple governmental agencies have explicitly expressed a desire to replicate the exclusion reduction which recently occurred in Glasgow, often citing the connection between school exclusion and violence as a key motivating factor. In this paper, after presenting the statistical trends in school exclusions in Scotland, England, Glasgow and London, we mobilise original interview data to (1) explain how school exclusion reduction occurred so rapidly in Glasgow between 2007 and 2019, and (2) explore whether a similar reduction in exclusions could occur in contemporary London. We apply a theoretical framework to these issues which derives from Peters’ work on policy coordination, allowing us to compare the conditions in Glasgow and London for well‐coordinated pan‐city exclusion reduction. Building on previous research which has contrasted national school exclusion policies in Scotland and England, we conclude that policy conditions surrounding school exclusion in the two cities differ substantially. There are substantial barriers to significant exclusion reduction in London, relating to both city‐ and national‐level factors. There barriers include competition between different agencies working in relevant policy spaces; the fragmentation of the city's education system; the need for better incentivisation of inclusion by Ofsted and the Department for Education; and particular challenges to reframing the issue of school exclusion in London.

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