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Agenda item

School Exclusions

Report of the Director of Strategic Commissioning and Inclusion Services



The Committee received a report of the Director of Strategic Commissioning and Inclusion Services containing details on the current position regarding school exclusions, together with information on the Council’s understanding of the issues, and the strategies the Council was employing to reduce the level of exclusions.




Joel Hardwick, Head of Commissioning – Inclusion and School Services, introduced the report, referring to the statistics with regard to the two types of exclusion - permanent and fixed-term, and highlighting the position with regard to the rate of both types of exclusion from primary and secondary schools in the City, and as a comparison nationally.  Mr Hardwick also referred to the work currently being undertaken by the Council to help reduce the rate of exclusions, and to support those pupils who had been excluded.




Members of the Committee raised questions, and the following responses were provided:-




·             The Inclusion and Schools Service would be able to provide statistics in terms of rates of exclusions in schools and academies in the south east of the City.




·             Although it remains too soon to draw firm conclusions, recent interventions have resulted in the reduction in the rate of exclusions, and this includes some of the high profile schools.




·             It was important that there was an understanding of the underlying causes as to why pupils had been excluded prior to looking at what measures could be put in place in order to reduce the rate of exclusions.  The statistics showed that the rate of exclusions was higher in the case of children from low income families and those requiring Special Educational Needs support.  When looking at the reasons as to why pupils were excluded, it was important to look at the wider family picture also.




·             Whilst attention was not focussed on the underlying causes and unmet needs, officers would continue to monitor the exclusion rates of pupils from BME and traveller communities.




·             Details with regard to the training provided to those members of staff who were now providing support to Roma, gypsy and traveller families, following the recent loss of the dedicated resource, and statistics regarding the rate of exclusions of children from BME communities, would be forwarded to Members of the Committee.




·             Whilst the Local Authority no longer had direct control in terms of the day to day operation of academies, it still maintained a level of responsibility with regard to the educational outcome of all pupils in the City.  If any issues were identified, such as abnormally high levels of exclusions of pupils in academies, the Local Authority may feel the need to raise concerns with the Regional Schools Commissioner and Ofsted.




·             The Local Authority was still legally entitled to receive statistics for local academies as they still retained their statutory duty.




·             The Policy and Improvement Officer (Deborah Fellowes) would look into whether the information requested by Councillor Bob Pullin, at a number of previous meetings of the Committee, relating to the support provided to Roma, gypsy and traveller children following the loss of the dedicated resources (half a post), had been forwarded to Councillor Pullin.




·             Statistics regarding permanent exclusions, showing how Sheffield ranked in comparison to other local authorities nationally, and exclusion rates by school, and further broken down by Special Educational Needs, would be forwarded to Members of the Committee.




·             Additional work, including intervention work, was being undertaken in order to reduce the numbers of pupils excluded, and subsequently ending up in the Youth Justice System.  This included the Sheffield Inclusion Centre, where specific work was being undertaken with those pupils having links to gangs and/or knife crime.




·             There were no plans at the present time to academise the Pupil Referral Unit.




·             The figures on the charts in the report referred to the percentage of incidents per student.




RESOLVED: That the Committee:-




(a)      notes the contents of the report now submitted, together with the comments now made and the responses to the questions raised;




(b)      welcomes the work being undertaken to continue reducing exclusions and supporting those pupils who have been excluded; and




(c)      requests the Director of Strategic Commissioning and Inclusion Services to submit an update report on the progress and effectiveness of the work undertaken to reduce exclusions and support pupils who have been excluded, and to include statistics in terms of the numbers of excluded pupils from BME communities and those with Special Educational Needs, to the first meeting of the Committee to be held in the 2019/20 Municipal Year.



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