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An exploration of school leaders' decision-making to exclude a student from school: What can we learn from their experiences?

Williams, Tracey (2022) An exploration of school leaders' decision-making to exclude a student from school: What can we learn from their experiences? Other thesis, University of Essex & Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

Tracey Williams Thesis final version - April 2022.pdf

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Exclusion from school is an acknowledged problem. Outcomes for children and young people (CYP) who are excluded from school are poor, with over-representation in the criminal justice system, involvement with substance misuse, poorer health and anti-social behaviour. The aim of this study was to explore experiences of school leaders (SLs) decision-making to exclude a student from secondary schools, including what considerations and learning they take into account. The study was conducted with SLs from seven schools in one Local Authority in the South-East of England. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and analysed using Thematic Analysis. Three key themes were found: challenges with creating cultural change; challenges with meeting the needs of CYP at risk of exclusion; and the need for specific personal and leadership skills. The findings suggest: i) decision-making to exclude is strongly influenced by organisational culture and, therefore, SLs need to engage at a whole school level to create an environment where the need to exclude is reduced. ii) Systems to support decision-making were often implemented too rigidly. When SLs were able to use these systems flexibly it led to greater consideration of alternatives to exclusion. A lack of alternatives to exclusion was also a key finding. iii) Specific leadership skills and personal qualities are identified that SLs utilised to help with their decision-making. Implications from the findings include: the need for schools to regularly review their whole school culture/ethos; regular professional development on intervention with, and responses to, CYP at risk of exclusion; greater co-ordination with special educational needs systems; policy guidance focusing on preventative approaches; greater support for SLs in their roles and the use of systemic theory to understand organisational change. The implications for educational psychology practice are also considered.

Item Type: Thesis (Other)
Depositing User: Tracey Williams
Date Deposited: 27 May 2022 15:20
Last Modified: 27 May 2022 15:20

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