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A message from Matt Dunkley CBE:

10 May 2019 weekly update

10 May 2019

This week, Matt provides highlights from two key publications.

Dear Colleagues

Please find below highlights of two key publications. Firstly, the publication The Timpson Review of School Exclusions which has outlined some far-reaching recommendations for Government, Schools and Local Authorities; the second is the publication from the Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Select Committee on the Funding of Local Authorities’ Children’s Services.

The Timpson Review of School Exclusions

The Timpson Review was published on Tuesday 7 May and has made 30 recommendations all of which have been accepted by the Government, to ensure that exclusions will be used appropriately.

Below is a summary of seven key elements from the review:

  1. Schools will be held accountable for excluded pupils
    • Schools will be accountable for the results of pupils they exclude, and take greater control of the funding and commission for AP. A consultation in the autumn would include further details.
    • Schools will also be required to submit information on their use of AP through the school census. That will include why school leaders have commissioned AP, how long a pupil spends in AP and how regularly they attend.
  2. AP Teaching Schools, with more funding for better facilities
    • The government has committed to implementing the call to promote the role of AP, which includes recognising the best institutions as teaching schools so they can share best practice across the wider system.
    • AP buildings and facilities to be “significantly improved and expanded”, with the “right level of capital funding” to be a priority for the next spending review.
    • Pupil Referral Units will be renamed to “reflect their role as both schools and places to support pupils overcome barriers to engaging in education”.
  3. Strengthened oversight role for councils
    • A bigger role for local authorities, with the DfE agreeing to “set expectations” that councils and schools should work together.
    • LAs will also become “advocates for vulnerable children” by hosting forums for all schools to help ensure early prevention for children at risk of exclusion.
  4. Consultation on revising the 45-day suspension limit
    • A pledge to consult on placing a revised limit on the total number of days a pupil can be (fixed-term) excluded for.
    • To review the reasons given for exclusions - particularly the use of the “other” category - so that the “reasons are more accurately captured”.
    • Other pledges include one to “look carefully” at the timing of adjustments to school funding following exclusions to make sure they don’t act as an incentive to permanently exclude, and publish the exclusion numbers for previously looked-after children.
    • The DfE has agreed to look at changing regulations so that social workers will now be notified when a child in-need is moved out of school, too.
  5. Exclusions guidance update, including ‘off-rolling’ definition
    • DfE to update statutory guidance on exclusions (to make sure it’s clear and consistent that exclusion is a last resort), strengthening guidance on in-school units, and more guidance for trustees on how to support and challenge schools on exclusions and managed moves.
    • New guidance on “off-rolling” to include an “actual definition, leaving no room for any doubt”.
  6. Funding
    • The DfE has agreed to extend funding to equality and diversity hubs beyond the current spending review to “widen their reach and impact”.
    • The Review has also called for a practice improvement fund to develop good practice on internal inclusion units, nurture groups, creating inclusive environments and proactive use of AP as early intervention”.
    • The £200 million Youth Endowment Fund (which is testing interventions to prevent children from becoming involved in a life of crime) should also be extended to schools and AP.
  7. Ofsted should ‘consistently recognise’ inclusive schools
    • Ofsted to “consistently recognise schools who succeed in supporting all children” under its leadership and management category.
    • Ofsted to give schools found to be ‘off-rolling’ an inadequate rating for their leadership and management in “all but exceptional cases”.

HCLG Select Committee: Funding of Local Authorities Children’s Services

The HCLG Select Committee report was published on 1 May and ahead of the 2019 Spending Review, it calls for a funding settlement that reflects the challenges local authorities face in delivering children’s social care and recommends a minimum increase to core grant funding of £3.1 billion up until 2025.

The report calls for the following:

  • The Spending Review must reflect the challenges facing local authorities and core funding should increase by a minimum of £3.1 billion
  • Increased funding must go hand-in-hand with systemic change if local authority children’s services are to be sustainable in the long-term
  • More work needs to be undertaken to understand and address the factors driving ever-increasing demand for children’s services.
  • Barriers to creating greater residential care placement capacity should be investigated and addressed
  • The Government must better understand the pressures facing social workers and the wider care workforce to improve recruitment and retention.

We shall watch with interest as this progresses.

Matt Dunkley CBE
Corporate Director
Children, Young People and Education