Most leaders are endowed with a core purpose and vision which are relatively radical and dissident. To climb to the top of an organisation this is almost a prerequisite. I have often heard people say we must be strategic in moving the culture towards the ultimate vision, once people have ‘bought in’ change will follow naturally.
However, sometimes it is time for action. Waiting for individuals to buy into a culture is not an option when damage is being done while we wait and attempt. Direct action here is the only option.
I’m old enough to remember being in the pub when a patron grabs his car keys, jingle them out of his pocket and the barman proclaims ‘one for the road’, this was the norm. The idea that any of my friends or myself would even entertain drinking and driving is not only an aberration but is worthy of disownment.
Another example would be the UK smoking ban (in public places), everyone knew the well-documented dangers of smoking and whether personal or passive. We have known for decades yet nothing changed regardless of the posters, the adverts, the burns and butts.
Today if you light up a cigarette in a restaurant, even the smokers in the room will tell you to put it out. What happened?
In both of the above scenarios, the change came because sanctions were in place and culture followed. Severe consequences pulled the collective mindset towards the visions. The damage was so great, that it was deemed that the conversion period was too long.
That brings me to society today. In my own educational context,
- In 2016/17, pupils from the Traveller of Irish Heritage and Gypsy/Roma ethnic groups had the highest rates of both temporary (‘fixed period’) and permanent exclusions
- Black Caribbean pupils were permanently excluded at nearly 3 times the rate of White British pupils.
- Across the broad ethnic groups, Black and Mixed ethnicity pupils had the highest rates of both temporary and permanent exclusions
- Black Caribbean pupils are educated in pupil referral units at nearly four times the expected rate. (London)
- Gypsy / Roma children are consistently overrepresented in exclusion figures, as are children eligible for Free School Meals and Looked After Children.
- London schools have seen a 26% increase in exclusion rates in the last three years.
- Pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN) are also overrepresented, accounting for 14 per cent of the pupil population but 42 per cent of exclusions in 2016/17.
Anecdotally through my career, I have heard these phrases used commonly from teachers, bear in mind I am a man of colour,
‘*They* use that word in songs’
‘The Asian kids are all related because they sleep with each other’s brothers and sisters’
‘Their parents don’t care about them, why should we shoulder that burden’
Is it not time we did something about exclusions from mainstream stream schools? It is not damaging enough for the pupil whose chances of achieving 5 GCSE’s drop to 1%. This is from the standard,
“Every day, 35 students (a full classroom) are permanently excluded from school. Only 1 per cent of them will go on to get the five good GCSEs they need to succeed.”
Isn’t it time we put in serious sanctions to organisations excluding at these rates, in some cases, the most vulnerable pupils? Or is it left to society to pay the price, when these pupils end up incarcerated or unable to gain purposeful employment?
When is it time that we see ourselves as servants in servitude to society and the children we serve? And those who do not see this, need to face sanction and their culture will fall in line