It concluded that a new onset mental disorder may be a consequence of exclusion from school. Additionally, vice versa it found that poor mental health could result in exclusion from school.
“For these children it encourages the very behaviour that it intends to punish”
The research, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, is thought to be the most rigorous study to date on the impact of exclusion from school among the general population.
The study authors noted that consistently poor behaviour was the main reason for school exclusion, with many students, mainly of secondary school age, facing repeated dismissal from school.
Relatively few pupils are expelled from school, but the Devon-based researchers warned that even temporary exclusions could amplify psychological distress.
Their analysis found children with learning difficulties and mental health problems – including depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum conditions – were more likely to be excluded from the classroom.
In addition, when they followed up on their progress, they found more children with mental disorders among those who had been excluded from school than those who had not.
“Exclusion often marks a turning point during an ongoing difficult time for the child”
The researchers concluded there was a “bi-directional association” between psychological distress and exclusion.
Children with psychological distress and mental-health problems were more likely to be excluded in the first place, but exclusion predicted increased levels of psychological distress three years later.
The findings were based on a review of responses from over 5,000 school-aged children, their parents and their teachers in the British Child and Adolescent Mental Health Surveys, which are collected by the Office of National Statistics for the Department of Health.
Lead study author Professor Tamsin Ford, a child and adolescent…