This is a sad report from my old Local Authority, Nottingham City, showing that the brutal tool of exclusions is still widely used as a way of deflecting student issues…
Almost 500 children have been permanently excluded from schools in Nottingham since 2012/13 – at a cost of £11.5m.
Figures released by Nottingham City Council show that 474 children were permanently excluded from city schools – both primary and secondary – between 2012/13 and 2016/17.
The cost of finding alternative provision for those children was £11.5m.
The figures show that 108 children – 22 primary-aged and 86 secondary-aged – were permanently excluded in 2016/17 at a cost of £2.6m.
The latest figures also show an increase in the number of exclusions – up dramatically from 39 in 2012/13.
The data has been released ahead of a meeting of the council’s Schools Forum at Loxley House on Thursday, June 22.
Agenda papers show that the rate of permanent exclusions in Nottingham is “currently twice that of the national rate” and that the trend is “accelerating”.
The forum will discuss plans to set up a working group – made up of experts from schools, Nottinghamshire Police, children’s mental health services and youth offending teams.
The agenda states: “The financial cost of managing the current approach is unsustainable, as well as failing to produce positive outcomes for increasing numbers of our children and young people.
“This report outlines a proposal for a multi-agency group to form and develop proposals for an early intervention pathway with the aim of identifying, at an early stage, children at risk of future exclusion.
“The group will also develop a strategy, based upon evidence and effective practice, to promote interventions that enables lower exclusion rates and reverse the current upward trend, with the long term aim of ensuring more pupils maintain places in their mainstream school and achieve better educational outcomes.”
Councillor Sam Webster, portfolio holder for business, education and skills at Nottingham City Council, said that permanent exclusions are rising nationally but wants to develop a “local solution” in Nottingham.
He said: “With ever-diminishing funds from central Government, there simply isn’t enough money available to continue providing alternative provision for excluded pupils at these levels.
“That means all of us – local authorities, schools, academies and the Regional Schools Commissioner – need to work together. This involves a change in the way that exclusions are used by headteachers in Nottingham.
“There has to be a much greater focus on highlighting potential problems at the earliest stage and making sure that schools and academies are supported to work with pupils to bring about positive changes. Permanent exclusions should only ever be used as an absolute last resort.”
Councillor Webster added: “The emphasis on exam results and league table has too often led to a rush to get rid of perceived troublemakers – often for minor infractions – rather than taking a more considered view of the responsibility schools have to all of their pupils.”
Chris Leslie, MP for Nottingham East, agreed that action needs to be taken to reduce the number of children permanently excluded from schools.
He said: “While schools ultimately do need powers to maintain discipline and behaviour in the classroom, there is clearly something happening here deserving an explanation. The children concerned need specialist support and this trend mustn’t be left to grow without proper policy response.
“I’ve heard concerns in the past about a few schools boosting performance targets by raising exclusion levels but it’s difficult to know whether that’s true.
“So I’d welcome a city-wide action plan to both pick up the needs of the children involved and get to the root cause of this trend.”