Update on School Exclusions
- Meeting of Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee, Wednesday, 4th December, 2019 10.00 am (Item 54.)
- View the declarations of interest for item 54.
Report of the Director of Education and Skills
This report provides an update on exclusions data held internally in Manchester for 2018/19 and final Department for Education (DfE) published school exclusions data for 2017/18 with national comparisons.
The Committee received a report of the Director of Education which provided an update on exclusions data held internally in Manchester for 2018/19 and final Department for Education (DfE) published school exclusions data for 2017/18 with national comparisons.
Officers referred to the main points and themes within the report which included:
- Providing a context for school exclusions;
- Describing the widespread multi-agency consultation on the Inclusion Strategy;
- Providing information on how the Director of Education worked with both the primary strategy group and high school heads to engage with schools to focus on reducing exclusions in the city;
- Information on the Support and Challenge Board;
- Information on the Multi Agency Team Around the School;
- Describing the work to improve consistency of inclusion in mainstream schools;
- How Early Help practitioners worked with families where children experienced fixed term exclusions;
- Trauma-informed approaches;
- Summary of permanent exclusions 2018/19;
- Summary of fixed-term exclusions 2018/19;
- Permanent exclusions 2018/19 analysis; and
- Manchester comparison with national and statistical neighbours (2017/18).
Some of the key points and themes that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:
- Were any pupils on part-time timetables and, if so, how many;
- Future plans for the Pupil Referral Unit (PRU);
- How did Manchester’s data on the percentage of excluded pupils with particular characteristics compare to the national average;
- Exclusions for possessing an offensive weapon, the importance of addressing the issue of pupils bringing knives into schools and the impact of this issue on school staff;
- Exclusion of pupils from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, including children from Roma communities;
- The correlation between reductions in permanent exclusions and an increase in fixed-term exclusions; and
- Exclusion of pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).
The Director of Education advised the Committee that schools could use part-time timetables as a short-term intervention in agreement with parents or carers but that it should not be used to avoid an exclusion. She informed Members that the Council arranged for schools to be visited by an independent quality assurance officer and that part of this now included asking the school about the use of part-time timetables and providing the Council with data on their use. She reported that the Council would also be asking schools to inform them about every pupil they put on a part-time timetable as an intervention; however, she advised that she did not yet have complete information on the use of part-time timetables in Manchester schools, as data was still being gathered. The Executive Member for Children and Schools suggested that data on the use of part-time timetables be included in future reports.
The Director of Education reported that the Inclusion Strategy included plans to review the continuum of provision relating to the PRU and other alternative provision but that this work was still at an early stage.
The Head of School Quality Assurance and Strategic SEND reported that national figures for 2018/19 were not yet available. She informed Members that there had been 12 exclusions from Manchester schools for possessing an offensive weapon but, as this was not a category in the DfE’s statistics, this could not be compared with a national average. The Executive Member for Children and Schools reported that a range of partners were working to address the issue of youth violence and suggested that the Committee receive a report on this.
The Head of School Quality Assurance and Strategic SEND advised Members that, while pupils from BAME were still disproportionately represented in exclusion figures, the degree of disproportionality had significantly reduced for many pupil groups; however, she advised that some of the figures related to small cohorts of pupils.
The Director of Education commented on the correlation between the reduction in permanent exclusions and the increase in fixed-term exclusions, advising that some pupils were now receiving fixed-term exclusions rather than a permanent exclusion which indicated that the school was still working with them to keep them within the school and avoid a permanent exclusion. She informed Members that her service was undertaking a piece of work with schools to promote a consistent level of support for pupils with SEND across Manchester schools. She reported that the Support and Challenge Board worked with schools regarding their SEND provision. She informed the Committee that her service was working to improve the timeliness of the completion of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) for pupils with SEND. In response to a Member’s question, the Head of School Quality Assurance and Strategic SEND informed the Committee that a breakdown of permanent and fixed-term exclusions of pupils with SEND would be included in the service’s Annual SEND Report.
1. To note the report and the reduction in permanent exclusions.
2. To note that the Committee will continue to monitor this issue through regular reports.
3. To receive a report on work to address youth violence.
[Councillor Stone declared a personal interest as a governor of the Manchester Secondary Pupil Referral Unit.]