Exploring the causes and consequences of school exclusion and the experiences of young people involved


Excluded Lives

Excluded Lives is a multi-disciplinary project across the four jurisdictions of the UK based in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. 

The overarching aim of this project is to provide a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary view of the different policies, practices and costs of formal, informal and illegal school exclusions across the UK.

The project will explore the different landscapes of exclusion and the experiences of the young people involved.

This research will provide the basis on which the consequences of different political economies may be understood, decisions of policy makers and professionals may be improved, and experiences of pupils’ and their families enhanced.

What we do

Our research

The research is organised into three work strands: 

Strand A:

Landscapes of exclusion

Strand A work packages examine the ways in which policies and legal frameworks shape interventions designed to prevent exclusions; the financial costs associated with exclusion; and patterns and characteristics of exclusion

A1. School exclusion policy levers, drivers and legal frameworks across the UK jurisdictions

A2a. Explorations of school exclusions and their social origins

A2b. The social costs of exclusion: Medium- and long-term socio-economic and behavioural consequences of school exclusion

A3. The landscape of public, private and third sector provision

Strand B:

Experiences of exclusion

Strand B work packages will focus on families’, pupils’ and professionals’ experiences of the risks and consequences of exclusion.

B1: Professionals’ conceptualisations of risk and vulnerabilities

B2: The perspectives of school leaders and teachers on the exclusion process 

B3: Students’ and families’ experiences of formal, informal and illegal exclusion in the political economies of the four UK jurisdictions

Strand C:

Costs & Findings

Strand C will evaluate the costs of school exclusions at individual, institutional and system levels; carry out within and cross-jurisdiction analyses; and conduct full multi-disciplinary integration of these findings.

C1: Economic costs of exclusion

C2: Cross-jurisdiction analysis

C3: Full multi-disciplinary integration


Featured publications

Seeking a balance: Conversations with policy makers and influencers about intervening upstream to prevent school exclusions in the context of Covid-19 and beyond

As schools get underway with the COVID-19 recovery phase in England, there is growing consensus among practitioners and policy professionals that rebuilding based on pre-COVID specifications will lead to the re-establishment of a previously broken system; a system which saw the most vulnerable children and young people in society slipping through the cracks. Read more

Restoring the balance: Policy recommendation justifications for collective responsibility in the post Covid-19 era

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed stark inequalities in our society, not least in school education. Read more

Getting the balance right: Policy recommendations for intervening upstream to prevent school exclusion in the context of Covid-19

Recommendations for policy makers that will support the successful reintegration of children and young people as they return to education in schools, sixth form colleges, further education colleges, special schools and pupil referral units and mitigate the risks of exclusion. Read more

News & Social Media

Latest posts

Webinar on the legislative and policy context around school exclusions: a comparison of UK jurisdictions (Scottish Educational Research Association Webinar, December 2021)
Webinar on the legislative and policy context around school exclusions: a comparison of UK jurisdictions (Scottish Educational Research Association Webinar, December 2021)

Members of the Excluded Lives team presented findings from their analysis of the legislative and policy contexts underpinning school exclusion in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Read more

Disgraceful Labelling: Race, Special Education and Exclusion
Disgraceful Labelling: Race, Special Education and Exclusion

It took fifty years before a TV programme was made about a disgraceful period in Britain’s educational history that has had long lasting effects on thousands of people from minority groups, especially those of Black Caribbean Heritage. “Subnormal: A British Scandal (20th May 2021) directed by Steve McQueen and produced by Lytanna Shannon provided a much needed service in bringing a dismal period of ‘education’ to public attention. The special education area is littered with insulting labels, and assumptions were and still are made that children who have learning difficulties or whom teachers regard as troublesome, can be labelled and removed from mainstream schooling. Read more