Excluded from school

Make sure that girls who have been excluded from school are included in guiding

How you can provide a safe environment for members who are excluded from school

School exclusion can be a difficult time in a girl's life when things feel unstable. By including them in guiding, you're giving them a space to grow and fulfill their potential.

Girls may be excluded for challenging behaviour, either for a temporary period or permanently. When girls choose to remove themselves from the school environment, they're known as a 'school refuser'.

How can guiding help?

Girls and young women who are in danger of being excluded, or who have been excluded, from school are facing a period of great change and instability. By including them at your regular unit meetings, you can provide them with continuity and boundaries. More than that, guiding offers them a safe space where they can build their confidence and self-esteem through our programme of challenge and adventure.

Being excluded from school is an extremely isolating experience so guiding enables girls to keep in contact with their peers, maintain their current friendships and develop new relationships outside of the school environment.

Importantly, other young members and volunteers in guiding can provide support and be positive role models for girls who have been excluded as they learn to respect others around them.

Including girls who are excluded

Focus on the individual 

Every case of exclusion is different so focus on the girl in your unit. Bear in mind that problems at school do not always mean that girls will show the same behaviour in guiding. MindEd - a free educational resource on children and young people's mental health - has a pathway for Girlguiding that will help you respond to young members' individual needs.

Set guidelines and boundaries

Follow clear rules that have been agreed by the unit and are followed by all girls in a consistent way. Guides can make unit guidelines, Brownies can agree rules for their Pow-wow and Rainbows for a Rainbow Chat. You may not see any difference in behaviour between girls who are excluded and those who go to school.

Think about communication

Challenging behaviour can be related to communication difficulties. Make sure you are aware of our guidance around inclusive communication.

Focus on the positive 

Many girls who have been excluded will be used to hearing negative statements. Focus on the positives of what all girls can achieve.

Be flexible

Give young members opportunities to make their own decisions about how they attend regular meetings. Make sure you only ask them to commit to what is reasonable for them.

Don't tell other girls and Leaders about the girl's exclusion without their, or their parent’s, consent.

Your role as a trusted adult

A young member who has been excluded may wish to talk to you as an adult that they trust and have regular contact with. They may also choose to speak with any Young Leaders in your unit, so make sure that you are available to support Young Leaders too.

This is an important responsibility, so if a girl turns to you for advice or support, make time to listen. If you are in the middle of a group activity, tell her that you will carry on your conversation after the activity has ended. Make sure that you follow through with this and are consistent. Be honest and do your best to answer any questions that a girl might have - as long as it's appropriate for you to do so.

See our full guidance on safeguarding members.

Where to get support

Get advice on inclusion

Contact the Inclusion team at Girlguiding HQ for more information about including all girls and volunteers in guiding.