A report from Councillor Sharon Briggs Cabinet Member for Children and Young Peopleis attached.
Paul Cooke, Strategic Lead (Schools, Academies & Colleges) presented a report from the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People summarising trends in permanent and fixed term exclusions from the 2017/2018 academic year.
The information was analysed by gender, special educational need and the reason for the exclusion. Statistical data from national and neighbouring authorities was also used to provide context.
It was explained that reducing both permanent and fixed term exclusions is a key priority for Bury, in order to ensure that inclusive schools and settings provide improved experiences and outcomes for all children and young people through ‘One Child, One Chance, One Partnership, One Bury’.
The report also contained an analysis of ‘off-rolling’ which was explained as year 10 pupils who were on roll in 2016/7 but were no longer on roll at a Bury school in year 11 in 2017/2018.
Information was provided on ‘internal exclusions’ in secondary schools detailing the number of lessons/sessions which pupils spend outside of the classroom, either in isolation or inclusion rooms.
High level data regarding Elective Home Education was also included and it was explained that more detailed analysis will be provided at a later date in a separate report following a review of casework and referral processes.
Paul explained that Bury had seen a rise of permanent exclusions in recent years and is currently twice the national average. 84 pupils had been permanently excluded in 2016/2017 which was up by 33 on the previous year.
Fixed term exclusions had risen both nationally and in Bury, however, Bury had seen a higher that national increase since 2015. All sectors had seen an increase, the most concerning rise was reported as being in primary. There had been 68 in 2014/15, 67 in 2015/2016, 105 in 2016 /2017 and 155 in 2017/2018.
The reasons for the high levels of exclusions had been linked to behaviour within the classroom. For the past 18 months work had been carried out with schools to explore alternative arrangements and provision. All schools were working together to bring consistent, collective practices and responsibility.
The numbers of permanent exclusions had reduced to where they were in previous years but this still needed to reduce further.
Analysis of school census returns had been undertaken and had identified 36 pupils who had been taken off roll at a Bury School in year 11. Destinations had been identified for 33 of the pupils and this information was set out within the report.
Those present were given the opportunity to ask questions and make comments and the following points were raised:
· Councillor Hankey referred to the measures that had been put in place to reduce the numbers of exclusions and asked what timescale was anticipated for figures to reduce.
Paul explained that head teachers had agreed to limit the use of the PRU and had brought in support to develop alternative scenarios. Mechanisms were now working and reductions were continuing in the current academic year. Paul explained that this would be an ongoing project across all schools.
· Councillor Hankey asked whether practices at other local authorities had been researched.
Paul explained that other local authorities’ practices had been looked at but there isn’t one single solution. Schools were working together to look at different approaches.
· Councillor Harris explained that as a school governor she had sat on exclusion panels and had been given a document which set out unacceptable behaviour. Councillor Harris asked whether this would be reviewed in light of the work being done.
Paul stated that measures were being put into place to deal with issues before exclusion became a possibility.
· Councillor Lucy Smith referred to the fact that schools were already finding it difficult in the current financial climate and asked how they could afford for extra measures to be undertaken.
Paul explained that resourcing is an issue for all schools and there was already a lot of money being spent across mainstream, special and independent non maintained special schools. There were around 130 young people being educated outside of the borough in independent non maintained special schools at a cost of £47,000 per pupil. The aim of the measures being put in place was to implement a preventative approach so that fewer pupils were referred to provision outside the borough.
· Councillor Bayley stated that the number of exclusions had been increasing for a few years and asked why work had only recently begun to reduce the figures.
Paul explained that a SEN inspection had identified a high number of exclusions in relation to SEN. This had then identified the issue across all pupils. As soon as the issue had been recognised work had started to rectify it and put the required measures in place.
· Councillor Cummings asked whether the figures included agreed moves between schools.
Paul stated that these would not be included as this would be one of the strategies implemented as a preventative measure to exclusion.
· Councillor James referred to elective home schooling and the reasons given by parents and carers to choose to home school. Councillor James asked whether this was sometimes used as a way of removing problem children from schools.
Paul stated that parents and carers of elected home educated children were asked for the reason behind the decision but this could be challenged more as the main answer was personal reasons which was very broad ranging. Paul reported that work was currently being undertaken to try to get home educated children into schools. This was being carried out by working closely with parents.
· Councillor Lucy Smith referred to the incidents of bullying and racial abuse that were set out within the figures and asked what work was being done with schools around this.
Paul explained that statutory agencies and voluntary organisations provide help and support when a need is identified.
It was agreed:
1. That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee receive an update on the work being carried out to reduce the number of exclusions across the borough at a future meeting of the Committee.
2. That Paul Cooke be thanked for his attendance at the meeting.