How children make sense of their permanent exclusion: a thematic analysis from semi-structured interviews

Rick Murphy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


A rising number of children are permanently excluded from school each year in England. Children’s experiences of exclusion are underrepresented in the literature, effectively giving prominence to the views and interpretations of researchers. This qualitative study uses semi-structured interviews to explore the ways in which excluded children story their experience of school exclusion (N=18). Thematic analysis was used to identify trends in the children’s data, integrating key themes to develop an understanding of how children make sense of the exclusion situation. The main findings from this study are that excluded children tend to experience schools as misreading symptoms of social injustice, bullying, and special educational needs as misbehaviour and non-compliance. The children reported that exclusion behaviours were a communication of personal and social problems that were amplified by punitive school measures. Ways in which schools can implement these findings are discussed with key recommendations for employing these findings within schools and educational settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-57
Number of pages15
JournalEmotional and Behavioural Difficulties
Issue number1
Early online date6 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2022


  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Children and young people
  • Emotional and behavioural difficulties
  • School Exclusion


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