The Think-Tank seminar series

An exploration of the impact of school exclusion on children’s mental health and well-being: a mixed methods approach


Professor Tamsin Ford, University of Exeter Medical School.

Date and time

12:00 -13:00, 24th January 2014


School exclusion is a disciplinary tool used to remove a child or young person from the school environment temporarily or in some cases permanently. Exclusion from school is a complex issue that can involve difficulties socially, emotionally and/or academically. The adverse consequences associated with exclusion from school are widely reported. Persistent disruptive behaviour is one of the main reasons given by Head teachers, and there is some research that reports significant differences of the odds of exclusion between children with ADHD and those without. Children diagnosed with depression have also reported higher levels of exclusion from school.

Overall numbers of permanent exclusions from school have declined in the last decade; however there are disproportionate groups of children who appear to be more vulnerable to this. The Department of Education reported children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) were 9 times more likely to be excluded from school than their peers with no SEN in England and Wales last year. These figures may not be truly representative of the problem, as recent reports conducted by the Children’s Commissioner for England also reported on a number of illegal exclusions that were going unreported in the UK.

The link between psychopathology and exclusion from school seems intuitively plausible yet there is surprisingly little research that has tested this relationship. This talk will introduce some of the work I have been doing as part of my PhD that explores the impact of school exclusion on children’s mental health and well-being. I will present some of the findings from a secondary analysis of the British Child and Adolescent Mental Health survey (BCAMHS) and talk through some of the research I have conducted in Devon with children ‘at risk’ of exclusion from school, the Supporting KIds, avoiding Problems (SKIP) study.