A new study into the expulsion of students from schools has found that half of those expelled are suffering with a recognised mental illness.

The study, carried out by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), pointed out the “broken system” that is currently a common theme in England’s schools due to the prospects (or lack of prospects) facing excluded pupils.

Students who are expelled from school are four times more likely to grow up in poverty than their peers, according to the report. They are also twice as likely to be living in care. And, of the 86,000 prisoner population, 54,000 were excluded when at school.

Perhaps the most hard-hitting part of the report (if the above wasn’t enough to make your gut wrench) is that children expelled from schools are seven times more likely to have special educational needs (SEN) as opposed to their counterparts. SEN students are those who have learning difficulties (such as ADHD, for example), mental illnesses (like anxiety and depression) or any other issue that might make learning more difficult for them than their peers. It is estimated that one in five children will have SEN at one point in their school career.

What the new study shows is how little we seem to be understanding our students. Schools are under great pressure, whether governments or voters want to admit it or not. The facts are there for all to see. And this pressure is clearly having a toll on students and their welfare.

We are seeing more and more schools slashing staff, particularly emotional support staff – those who would directly work with SEN students. This IPPR report really does beg the question are all students who are being excluded really worthy of it? Would they still be excluded if schools had the appropriate resources and staff to help them?

Schools are more than places we learn algebra and literature in. They are institutions that raise our children and ultimately help form who they turn out to be. So when a school gives up on a child, what hope do they have?


If you feel you’re struggling with things at the moment and like life is getting on top of you, don’t be afraid to speak out. You could talk to a friend or a family member, but if you don’t feel comfortable, you can speak to some of the people below:

  • Your GP,
  • A teacher,
  • ChildLine (free and for under 18s): 0800 1111
  • Samaritans (free and for any age): 0191 232 7272