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date: 21 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter begins by outlining the routes through which children drop out of school. It then draws on the failings of the English system to suggest six key lessons for other jurisdictions. The first centers on how academic results–driven accountability measures push schools and decision-makers into unjustifiably excluding children. The second demonstrates the vulnerability of discretionary frameworks to perverse incentives and unintended negative consequences for children at risk of school dropout. The third highlights the difficulties created by increased autonomy for teachers and schools. The fourth reveals how additional protections for particularly vulnerable children are constrained by the broader exclusion regime. The fifth and sixth demonstrate the need for jurisdictions to revisit the conceptual and empirical basis of their legal frameworks for exclusion, whether grounded in best interests, competing interests, or children’s rights. The chapter concludes by emphasizing the need to develop empirical evidence to underpin decisions around dropout.

Keywords: school dropout, permanent exclusion, expulsion, education law, children’s rights, right to education, best interests, school accountability, discretion, autonomy

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