Agenda item

Introduction to school exclusions and alternative provisions

Officer presentation on exclusions and alternative provisions.  The following officers will present:


·  Nina Dohel, Education Director

·  Alasdair Smith, Director Children’s and Families

·  Jenny Brennan, Assistant Director Family Early Help & Youth Justice.

·  David Bromfield, Education Adviser


A report and presetnationwere provided.


The following officers presented:


· Nina Dohel, Education Director

· Alasdair Smith, Director Children’s and Families

· Jenny Brennan, Assistant Director Family Early Help & Youth Justice.

· David Bromfield, Education Adviser


The chair then invited questions and comments.


A member asked about Fixed Term Exclusions. These are accumulative and potentially lead to permanent exclusion if a pupil has received 45 days in one year. Officers were asked if these Fixed Term Exclusions could arise out of minor issues, such as a shirt hanging out for 45 days. The Director of Education said this was unlikely and exclusions are usually the result of more serious risks and disruption.


The council data on Fixed Term Exclusion is not adequate or consistent, with the council only receiving notification of a small fraction of incidences, even though schools are required to report this data to the council. Members asked what can be done if accurate information is not provided.  Officers said their powers are limited and they are largely reliant on the data provided, particularly if the relationship is not there. Generally, however, there are good relationships with Head and officers are able to pick up issues, but there are variable inclinations to share information. Officers can go into schools on a safeguarding brief. 


Officers said they intend to look more at Fixed Terms Exclusion as they do recognise this is a risk factor for young people. They are now reminding schools and adding administrative capacity in order to do this.  As part of this they are trying to get numbers to add up. This is part of a national programme and there is a call to strengthen local authority powers with schools to enable this.


Members asked more about the characteristics of children who are excluded, and if the large proportion with a Care Plan for Neglect is proportional to other types of child abuse. Members were also interested on the how the proportion of Free School Meals (FSM)  equates with the borough average and the criteria.


Officers asked if they had looked at Key stage one attainment for excluded children. Officers said analysis had revealed a range; some analysis showed average, as well as some children with high attainment. A member said if schools are being cynical then a cohort they could seek to remove are pupils with potentially high attainment, but low progress, as the school Progress 8 scores would be adversely affected.


Members asked about the requirements to report Managed Moves. These do not have to be reported to the council; there is a school forum that discusses Managed Moves and also a survey. A Managed Move works for about 1/3 of children.  Members were concerned about the pupils where a Managed Move did work and their outcomes. 


Members requested more information on off rolling data. Officers explained that there is an obligation for a school to inform the council when a child is removed from the school roll. However there are difficulties. For example there can be conversations with parents suggesting they take the child out of school or the child would be expelled. Under the new Ofsted framework there will be more consequences for schools that are found to have off-rolled. The Timpson recommendation was that a school remain responsible for Progress 8.


A member commented she is aware of a number of parents who have sought advice for 15 children who were heading for low marks and were off rolled to a local collage from one school. That school went on to get top marks. There are also reports of year 12 pupils being moved on when schools have low expectations for their final grades.


Members recommended that the social profile of pupils going to different schools is examined to see if this is a factor in the lower rates of exclusion at most Church schools compared with the higher rates of exclusion in most of the schools in Academy chains (noting that  there is variability here).


Officers were asked about the quality of Alternative Provision, bearing in mind that Exclusion is rarely the best choice for the individual child but can be for the wider community and other pupils as some children are disruptive. Officers said the SILS cohort is changing, with an increase in the scale of need and range. There is more than one form of provision. Currently both on-line and home support is provided, however the preference is always for a setting where children will physically be taught with other children. Costs for Alternative Provision are escalating. Southwark only use providers with a Good or better Ofsted rating.


Members asked how schools and the council are meeting the needs of children with mental health. Officers said that they do work with CAMHS and hospital schools.


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