Agenda Alliance has discovered that growing numbers of Black Caribbean girls were kicked out of school during 2021/22. Data obtained from the Department of Education via Freedom of Information requests has found that in the 2021/22 academic year, girls from a Black Caribbean background were excluded at double the rate of white British girls.
Agenda Alliance has also found that girls from Traveller of Irish Heritage backgrounds, and Gypsy/Roma girls, are being disproportionately excluded and suspended from schools. Exclusions have particularly affected Gypsy/Roma girls, who have been consistently excluded at a considerably higher rate than white British girls over the past four years (2018 – 2022).
This news comes as exclusions generally have risen beyond pre-pandemic levels and shortly after the government launched a crackdown on unauthorised absences from school.
Agenda Alliance’s data analysis demonstrates school discipline policies are disproportionately impacting girls from ethnic minority backgrounds, and sparks concerns new absenteeism measures may intensify the issue:
Exclusions during 2021/2022
- White British girls were excluded at a rate of 0.06
- Black Caribbean girls were excluded at double the rate of white British girls, at 0.12.
- Mixed white and Black Caribbean girls were excluded at more than double the rate of white British girls at 0.14
- Travellers of Irish Heritage girls were excluded at three times the rate of white British girls at 0.18
- Gypsy/Roma girls were excluded at just under three times the rate of white British girls at 0.15.
1800 girls were excluded in 2021-22, up considerably from the year before.
Suspensions during 2021/2022 tell a similar bleak story
- White British girls were suspended at a rate of 5.66
- Travellers of Irish Heritage girls were suspended at double the rate of white British girls at 11.49
- Gypsy/Roma girls were suspended at over three times the rate of white British girls at 18.86
- Mixed white and Black Caribbean girls were suspended at just under double the rate of white British girls at 9.73
Suspensions are a particular concern for government in its bid to improve school attendance. Being suspended is a key driver of absenteeism and girls - especially those in poverty (eligible for free school meals) - have been found to be most at risk of staying away from school.
Agenda Alliance demands:
- Schools must adopt improved behavioural policies, addressing how gender and racial stereotypes (such as ‘adultification’) are disproportionately impacting girls.
- All specialist staff working with children who have been or are at risk of exclusion must be trained to deliver culturally-, gender-, age-, and trauma- responsive support.
- Any responses to high rates of absenteeism must avoid unnecessarily punitive approaches, and instead work to address the root causes of girls’ absence from school. They should be co-produced with young women and the specialist organisations that support them.
Violet, aged 16: