Two thirds of excluded students in Islington from BAME backgrounds

Cllr Joe Caluori, Islington executive member for children and young people

Cllr Joe Caluori, Islington executive member for children and young people - Credit: Archant

Two thirds of the children excluded from Islington’s secondary schools in 2017 were from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

During the 2016-2017 school year 36 students were permanently excluded from schools and academies in the borough and 25 – 65 per cent – were from BAME backgrounds, according to FOI stats obtained by the Gazette.

This issue was raised at a children’s services scrutiny committee meeting in July, where it was noted “a disproportionate” number of BAME students are being excluded. Islington Council is now probing why that is the case with an update set to be provided when the committee meets again next week.

The trend continued on from the previous year when 18 of the 30 children expelled – or 60pc – were from BAME groups.

Islington’s children’s services chief Cllr Joe Caluori told the Gazette the council was committed to promoting fairness and ensuring all students have the best start to life.

He said: “The council is currently undertaking a review into the use and impact of exclusion in both primary and secondary schools – including the reasons for the disproportionate representation of some minority ethnic groups.

“School exclusions are serious decisions made by schools and head teachers that can have a deep impact on the lives of affected students.

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“These decisions are not made lightly and are only ever considered a last resort – but it is important that we understand why they are happening, and what we can do to enable more children and young people to remain in mainstream education.”

Statistics compiled by anti-exclusion charity The Difference also show that in March 2017 Islington had four times as many kids studying in pupil referral units than the national average. This figure is proportionate to the varying populations in different boroughs.

The Labour leader and Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn told the Gazette: “Exclusions from schools do not take place in a vacuum, they are a symptom of wider issues in society that must be tackled. I welcome the review announced by the Council and look forward to discussing its findings.

“Nationally there has been a sharp rise in exclusions and this should be a matter of deep concern for us all, but this Tory Government is showing no sign of addressing it.”