This article draws on data gathered in a two-year English government funded follow-up study of secondary school children who were permanently excluded from school and who did not return to mainstream settings. It reflects on recent debates concerning different forms of social exclusion and considers what forms of service provision might prevent the multiple and overlapping forms of disadvantage that characterise “deep” exclusion. This reflection is set in the context of recent policy moves in England which seek to promote practices of ‘joined up’ or interagency working. It is argued that more attention should be focussed on the organisational climate in which professionals in Children’s Services operate. This, it is argued may make it possible to form meaningful relations and patterns of communication that join the services around the young people rather than be constrained by narrow targets that up until now have regulated professional action in the separate agencies that are now, supposedly unified, in Children’s Services.
Exclusion from school as a possible precursor to exclusion
from society remains a matter of public concern in many countries. Scott et al
(2001) showed that children who are seen to exhibit significant antisocial
behavior have poor social functioning as adults and are at high risk of social
exclusion and that the costs incurred in the transition to adulthood are 10
times higher than those whose behavior is not a cause for concern. Prevention
of social exclusion (Levitas et al, 2007)  and reduction of concomitant
costs (Scott et al, 2001)  are major policy concerns in an era of economic
uncertainty, speculation about the possible futures for social cohesion
(Putnam, 2001) , and alarming reports about the prevalence of children’s
mental health difficulties and eroded sense of well being (UNICEF, 2007;
Maughan, 2004) [23, 17]. Bradshaw et al (2004)  point to the need to
distinguish between factors which affect overall levels of social exclusion and
the risk factors and triggers that precipitate or enhance individual
vulnerability. Levitas et al (2007)  draw on this understanding and develop
a distinction between social exclusion and “deep exclusion”, where social
exclusion is defined as a complex and multi-dimensional process. It involves
the lack or denial of resources, rights, goods and services, and the inability
to participate in the normal relationships and activities, available to the
majority of people in a society, whether in economic, social, cultural or
political arenas. It affects both the quality of life of individuals and the
equity and cohesion of society as a whole.
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