Council concerned about school exclusion levels among disadvantaged pupils

Posted on: 1 June 2016

Devon County Council has found that disadvantaged pupils, such as those from low income families or with Special Educational Needs and Disability, are over-represented among those excluded from schools.

It wants to encourage schools to share good practice about ways to prevent exclusion as much as possible, including by providing better pastoral support systems and a more inclusive curriculum.

A Task Group of the People Scrutiny Committee carried out research on this topic and spoke to both teachers and pupils in schools across Devon.  Its report made a series of recommendations that have been accepted by the Council’s Cabinet.

The Task Group report acknowledges that it is a school’s decision to exclude a pupil, not that of the County Council, and that while some schools exclude more than others, they do not take the option lightly.  However, the statistics show that children from low income families are more likely to be excluded than those who are not.  More likely too are children with Special Educational Needs or children who are in care.

Councillor Andy Hannan, the Chair of the Task Group said:

Cllr Andy Hannan

Cllr Andy Hannan

“It’s worrying that there is a higher incidence of exclusions of children with greatest need; those from low income families and children with Special Educational Needs and Disability.

“Nonetheless we applaud the efforts of the County Council to hold schools to account with regard to exclusion and to support them through their School Inclusion Officers and other services.

“We also of course applaud the efforts of schools themselves, and have seen examples of good practice in the way that many schools are tackling the issue.

“However, we think that more should be done as pupil disaffection and misbehaviour has a negative effect not just on the children involved but also on their classmates.”

The report also recognises links to Elective Home Education, which can be used as a means whereby children leave school to avoid exclusion.

The Council’s Chief Executive, Dr Phil Norrey, described the report as ‘very timely’. Dr Norrey, who is also the spokesman for children and young people of the Society of Local Authorities Chief Executives (SOLACE), said that he will feed the report into discussions that he is having with the Department for Education around the Government’s proposals for academisation of schools.

Councillor James McInnes, the Council’s Cabinet Member in charge of schools, Cllr James McInnessupported the Task Group’s report and recommendations.  He and the Council’s Head of Education will take all appropriate action to take the recommendations forward.

Posted in: Education