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A message from Patrick Leeson:

10 October 2017 weekly update

10 October 2017

This week, Patrick analyses the Permanent and Fixed Term Exclusion data for Kent schools in the 2016-17 school year in comparison to the previous academic year and the national average.

Dear Colleagues

Exclusions Data for the 2016-17 School Year

Exclusion from school is a serious matter which impacts on the progress and attainment of pupils, often the most vulnerable learners, and all the efforts we make to reduce loss of learning time through exclusion contribute significantly to raising standards.

The latest DfE exclusion data release indicates that Kent schools’ overall performance in the past two years has improved to the level that is significantly better than the national average, which is very positive.

However, the pattern of exclusions is very variable across Districts and schools, and depends very much on the local arrangements for inclusive schooling, behaviour support, managed moves, In Year Fair Access and the work of the Pupil Referral Units.

Permanent Exclusions

In the last academic year 2016-17 there were 68 permanent exclusions, which is a small increase of 2 on the previous academic year. The rate of permanent exclusion remains significantly better than the national average.

There were 19 permanent exclusions, in 19 Primary schools, which is an increase of 3 compared to the previous academic year. This includes 8 permanent exclusions of children in Key Stage 1, which is very disappointing. Most of the Primary permanent exclusions took place in East and North Kent, primarily in Dartford and Swale.

In Secondary schools there were 49 permanent exclusions, which is a reduction of 1 compared to the previous year. Most of the excluded pupils were in Years 9 and 10 and of the 29 Secondary schools that permanently excluded, 20 schools excluded only one pupil. The greatest number of permanent exclusions took place in 9 Secondary schools and most of the exclusions (30) were concentrated in Dartford, Gravesham and Maidstone.

While most districts have achieved a reduction in permanent exclusion, the schools in Shepway district had the best performance where we saw a reduction of 13 permanent exclusions in the 2016/17 academic year compared to 2015/16 (15 reduced to 2 exclusions). Maidstone district also saw a notable reduction, down from 16 to 10 exclusions in 2016/17.

It is unfortunate that towards the end of the Summer term there was a sudden surge of permanent exclusions in Dartford and Gravesham in North Kent. This resulted in 25 pupils being permanently excluded from the schools in North Kent area, representing nearly half of Kent’s total. The local schools have since agreed a revised PRU model, adopting new inclusion measures to reduce the use of permanent exclusion.

Of those permanently excluded, 28 pupils were on free school meals, (reduced from 41 in 2016) 20 pupils were open cases for Early help and Social Care and three pupils had an Education Health and Care Plan. Our aim is to ensure that no looked after child and no pupils with EHC plans are permanently excluded.

Fixed Term Exclusions

There was a slight reduction in fixed term exclusions in the last academic year compared to 2015/16, down 21 from 9,996 to 9,975 exclusions. The rate of fixed-term exclusion among Kent schools was much better than the national average.

The overall decrease was directly related to a positive reduction in Secondary School fixed-term exclusions. At the same time, there was an increase in Primary School fixed-term exclusions, up 324 from 1,725 to 2,049 exclusions in 2016/17.

Ashford, Shepway and Swale districts saw the most significant reductions in the number of fixed term exclusions, by 563, 338 and 311 respectively. In contrast, Gravesham as well as Tonbridge and Malling districts saw the most significant increases in the number of fixed term exclusions compared to the last academic year in 2015/16.

Among the overall number of fixed term exclusions (9975), 1067 pupils were excluded three or more times and 523 pupils lost 10 days or more education. Most of these pupils were in Secondary schools where 823 pupils were excluded three or more times and 439 pupils lost 10 or more days’ education.

Among the pupils with one or more fixed term exclusions, 54% were pupils on free school meals which is the same percentage as the previous school year. It is disappointing that we are not seeing this percentage reduce. Similarly, the percentage of pupils with SEN (7.6%) is more or less the same as the previous school year.

For the few districts where there has been no improvement, the Local Authority and schools are working together, agreeing new inclusion approaches and Alternative Provision arrangements to reduce the use of exclusion.

The re-organised PRU arrangements continue to make a clear contribution to the reduction in permanent exclusions over time. This has been achieved through a review of the local offer, an improved curriculum and a commitment on the part of schools to find positive alternatives to exclusion and clearer pathways to post 16 training and learning.

The Inclusion and Attendance Advisers have adopted more preventative approaches to focus their interventions on the factors that make a difference to children’s behaviours, which in turn affects the rates of permanent and fixed term exclusions.

These factors include the effectiveness of school practice and in-school support, including the use of the Pupil Premium; the cooperation of schools in the local 'In Year Fair Access' arrangements; the alternative curriculum provision and support for schools provided by the Pupil Referral Units; the availability of support to Primary schools for challenging behaviour; the Local Inclusion Forums; early identification of special educational needs and the use of High Needs funding and the LIFT process; and the use of support through Early Help notifications. I hope we can continue to use this range of provision and resources to continue to provide the best support for pupils with challenging behaviour and other needs, and to continue to reduce the use of exclusion.

For more information please contact, Head of Attendance and Inclusion, and, Principal Adviser, Secondary, Special and PRUs.

Patrick Leeson
Corporate Director
Children, Young People and Education