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Since 2017, each yearly data report from the Department of Education (DfE) has shown that Northeast England has the highest exclusion rates of any region in the United Kingdom (DfE, 2017-2021). Aside from during the Covid-19 pandemic, in which all exclusion rates dropped across the country, exclusions have risen steadily in the Northeast for the last five years. Nationally, the most common reason for a permanent exclusion or suspension is ‘persistent disruptive behaviour’.

#SeeMe #pullupachair was led by Sarah with funding from the UKRI Policy Support Fund 2021/2022 and the UoS, Interdisciplinary Research Network: Adverse Childhood Experiences. This project engaged 130 children aged 5-16 years in a creative arts project with four local artists. Of these 68 shared their views on school exclusion. A further 28 children aged 5-16 years, previously excluded from school, took part in a creative arts project, funded by the UoS interdisciplinary research network: Adverse Childhood Experiences 2021/2022, contributing to this resource. 

In 2018, Together for Children commissioned Sarah Martin-Denham at the UoS to ‘investigate the factors that impact upon social and emotional wellbeing of children and young people from 3-16 years, which may lead to exclusion from school’. 174 participants took part in the research, including:

  • 55 children previously excluded from school
  • 41 of their caregivers
  • 78 education and health professionals


Sarah has twelve publications that give an insight into this complex world.