To consider a report from the Executive Director – People (Deputy Chief Executive).
Members received a presentation about Exclusions from School in Cumbria, as requested by members at an earlier meeting of the Board.
Members were guided through the presentation which gave the following information:
· Context for exclusions
· Key changes
· National Data (for 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17)
· Exclusions in Cumbria
· The response to exclusions
· The impact on the need for Alternative Provision
Members had also received the statutory DfE guidance regarding Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England for those with legal responsibilities in relation to exclusion.
Members were advised that local authorities had less power than in previous years for challenging exclusions. Important changes were that the voice of the child was now less well heard and School Appeals Panels could no longer reinstate a child in school, instead they could only make recommendations to reinstate them.
Members were advised of the national data for public exclusions and the placing of Cumbria in relation to its statistical neighbours and England. For 2016-17, Cumbria’s exclusion rate increased greater than the rest of the North West of England and was higher than its statistical neighbours. Members were advised of the rate of exclusions across all key stages, with the differences in changes for each stage identified. Comparisons with the national picture were reported. It was noted that over the course of three years, the number of exclusions had doubled, which was mirrored nationally. Geographical differences in the period 2015-18 in the county were identified.
Actions undertaken to address the number of exclusions were reported. This including training for Governors, benchmarking and the Fair Access Protocol. To conclude, the impact on the need for Alternative Provision (AP) was outlined. Members were apprised of the reasons why AP was clearly needed.
Given the importance of the issue of school exclusions, the Chair requested that a Deep Dive investigation be undertaken by the Board. A member requested that the names of the schools from which children and young people had been excluded be circulated. However, it was noted that discussion of this matter in the public meeting was not appropriate but members were reassured that the schools in question were fully supported by the County Council.
It was queried whether officers were in contact with other local authorities with similar trends to ascertain best practice and lessons learned. Members were advised by the Assistant Director - Education and Skills that other local authorities’ trends would need to be ascertained. In terms of the response to exclusions and training for Governors, it was questioned what work the council was undertaking to address the shortage of School Governors in the county. The Assistant Director - Education and Skills reported on the Governor Support Team’s challenging workload and the actions being undertaken to appoint more Governors. Members requested the Governor training programme.
It was queried whether the number of exclusions differed between Local Authority, Faith and Academy schools and if a gap in school leadership impacted on the number of exclusions. Members were informed that the ... view the full minutes text for item 16