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The Timpson Review is the result of the government commissioning a review of school exclusion, to explore how head teachers use exclusion in practice, and why some groups of children are more likely to be excluded, including children in need, those with special educational needs (SEN), children who have been supported by social care, are eligible for free school meals or are from particular ethnic groups.  The Review was published on 7 May 2019 and contained 30 recommendations.  The Government’s response to the recommendations was published on the same day.

Although primarily of relevance to the state-funded sector, the report raises principles and issues that may be of interest and wider application to the broader schools sector.


The Timpson Review identified four areas (set out below) that it found drove the current practice.  Within these were 30 recommendations, including the following:

  1. Ambitious Leadership
  • statutory guidance on exclusion should be updated to provide more clarity on the use of exclusion,
  • all relevant, overlapping guidance (e.g. on behaviour management and mental health and behaviour) should be clear, accessible and consistent in its message,
  • DfE should set the expectation that schools and LAs work together, and
  • LAs should be enabled to facilitate and convene meaningful local forums that all schools are expected to attend which meet regularly, share best practice and take responsibility for collecting and reviewing data.

Government Response

The government will rewrite its guidance, including that on exclusions, and on behaviour and discipline in schools, by summer 2020.

The government will establish a practice programme that embeds effective partnership working between LAs, schools, alternative provision and other partners to better equip schools to intervene early and to ensure that the most effective provision is put in place for those who are excluded.

  2. Equipping

  • DfE should ensure that training on behaviour is a mandatory part of initial teacher training and is embedded in the Early Career Framework, and
  • DfE should review the training that is given to SENCOs

Government Response

The Early Career Framework (ECF) launched by the DfE as part of the teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy announced a specific new entitlement for every new teacher to receive enhanced training in behaviour and classroom management in the first two years of their career. The ECF provides a starting point for a review of the guidance on core content for Initial Teacher Training providers.

 3. Incentivising schools

  • DfE should make schools responsible for the children they exclude and accountable for their educational outcomes,
  • DfE should look at school funding to make sure that they do not incentivise exclusion or discourage a school from admitting a child who has been previously excluded, and
  • Governing bodies, academy trusts and local forums of schools should review information on children excluded.

Government Response

In revising the guidance, the DfE will clarify their expectation that governing bodies, Directors of Children’s Services, academy trusts and local forums of schools should review information on children who leave schools, by exclusion or otherwise.  This information should be used to inform improvements in practice and reduce disparities.

Schools will be made accountable for the outcomes of permanently excluded children.  A consultation will be launched in the autumn as to how to deliver on that.  They will also seek views on how to tackle the practice of “off-rolling”.

 4. Safeguarding: ensuring no child misses out on education

  • LAs, working with schools, should track and review when pupils move out of schools, where they move to and why,
  • DfE should consider a “right to return” period where children could return from home education to their previous school, and
  • New safeguards should be considered to mitigate the risk of schools avoiding admitting children where they do not have the grounds to do so.

Government Response

Ofsted will publish its revised inspection handbook shortly and the DfE will work with them to define and tackle the practice of “off-rolling”.

(Also see the consultation referred to under paragraph 3 above)

The above represents a summary of some of the recommendations and the government’s response.  The full government response to each of the 30 recommendations should be read in its entirety and can be found here.

If you require further information about anything covered in this briefing, please contact Jonathan Eley, or your usual contact at the firm on +44 (0)20 3375 7000.

This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

© Farrer & Co LLP, June 2019

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