Press Story

  • At least one in two pupils permanently excluded from schools have a mental health issue, IPPR finds.
  • System failing these vulnerable pupils: government data shows only one in a hundred children who have been permanently excluded from mainstream schools go on to receive five good GCSE grades.
  • In September, IPPR's report on the subject will be published, setting out details of a new pathway into teaching which includes a Masters degree in mental health and education, to address the crisis.
  • News comes ahead of annual figures on permanent and fixed period exclusions from schools in England, 2015 to 2016, set to be published by the Department for Education 0930h on Thursday 20 July. IPPR predicts a rise in those excluded.

Fresh figures from the IPPR think-tank lay bare the broken system facing excluded pupils, as part of a major new study into the social mobility chances of the most vulnerable teens.

Researchers found that 1 in 2 excluded pupils experience recognised mental health problems, compared with 1 in 50 pupils in the wider population. Estimates suggest this might be as high as 100% once undiagnosed problems are taken into account.

Meanwhile government data has shown that only one in a hundred children who have been permanently excluded from mainstream schools go on to receive five good GCSE grades.

Since 2013/14 the number of pupils permanently excluded from schools has risen by 24%.

Under the current failing system, excluded pupils are four times more likely to grow up in poverty, twice as likely to be living in care, and seven times more likely to have a special educational need as other children.

This lack of specialised support then leads to a downward spiral of under-achievement, the study says, adding that:

  • Teachers in schools for excluded pupils are twice as likely to have no educational qualifications.
  • 99 per cent of excluded children will finish school without five good GCSEs required by most employers.
  • These marginalised young people are often then in a pipeline to prison: of the 85,975 people in UK prison, IPPR estimates 54,164 were excluded when at school.

The figures come as the government prepares to release the latest data on the number of pupils expelled from mainstream schools (at 0930h, Thursday 20 July).

IPPR predicts increasing pressures on schools and councils will lead to seeing a sharp rise in the number of pupils excluded.

Even these figures are likely to be a low estimate, researchers say, as councils under-report numbers.

In the coming weeks, IPPR research will publish evidence to break this cycle by developing detailed proposals for a new teaching pathway for mental health experts to work closely with excluded children.

By combining teaching skills with mental health expertise they can better respond to the complex educational and health needs of the most vulnerable pupils, helping them to get back on course to achieve their potential.

Kiran Gill, IPPR Associate Fellow and Founder of The Difference, which works to improve mental health provision for excluded pupils through evidenced-based policy interventions, said:

“Theresa May says she is committed to improving mental health of young people. Addressing the most vulnerable children being thrown out of England’s schools is a good place to start. Because unequal treatment of mental health may be an injustice, but the discrimination of school exclusions is a crime.

“The Difference is fighting to break the link between school exclusion and social exclusion in a burningly injust system, and ensure vulnerable young people get the good quality schooling they need to change their lives and trajectories.

“If the Government is serious about real action on mental health, there needs to be dedicated funding and thought-through solutions rather than sticking plasters on the symptoms of the problem.”



Ash Singleton,, 07887 422 789.


The interim findings of the research are being published under embargo [0001h, Thursday 20 July] ahead of the publication of the latest DfE data on excluded pupils [0930h, Thursday 20 July].

These interim findings will be published in a final report in September with detailed recommendations to government and others to reverse the situation, through a new route into teaching which focuses closely on mental health.

IPPR aims to influence policy in the present and reinvent progressive politics in the future, and is dedicated to the better country that Britain can be through progressive policy and politics. With nearly 60 staff across four offices throughout the UK, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence.

Our independent research is wide ranging, covering the economy, work, skills, transport, democracy, the environment, education, energy, migration and healthcare among many other areas.