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Irrelevant Fact: This is the 1000th item of news and information posted on this website. 

You will find the original article on which this item is based, here

In 2009-10, Kent schools permanently excluded 126 pupils, rising to 210 two years later, but falling every year since then, to a low of 58 in 2015-16. Over the same period Medway school exclusions rose from just three pupils excluded to an appalling and record figure of 81 in 2015-16, up 35% on 2014-15. This is the highest exclusion rate in the South East of England, with the secondary school exclusion rate being over twice as large as any other Local Authority. Nationally, Medway is joint 7th worst in the country for permanent exclusions. Further, the average number of days of fixed term exclusion per Medway pupil was 7.3 days, the highest figure in the country. 

In both Local Authorities, the number of families ‘choosing’ Elective Home Education is astonishingly high, with Medway seeing an incredible rise in families taking their children out of school, soaring from 38 to 377 in two years. For some reason, Medway Council is desperately trying to hide the identities of the schools where the worst problems exist.

This article explores the reasons for the stark contrast in outcomes in the two Local Authorities. Government policy is to reduce the number of children excluded from schools, with permanent exclusion (expulsion) used only as a last resort.

Published in Newspaper Articles

Updated with Medway permanent exclusions 2014-15.

How much worse can it get for the children of Medway? My previous article recorded the dire statistic that Medway primary schools had the worst KS2 results in the country for 2015, and overall for the period from 2009 to 2015, whilst earlier in the year, Medway Primary schools published figures show that the Authority came bottom in the country in 2013-14 for OFSTED outcomes.

Now come the latest national figures on fixed and permanent exclusions, which cover the school year for 2013-14 and show Medway has the second highest percentage of primary school fixed term exclusions in the country. This is the equivalent of one fixed term exclusion for every 3.37% of the school population, over three times the national average and an astonishing rise of 34% over 2012/13.

A previous article I wrote about permanent exclusions showed that permanent exclusions in Medway rose astonishingly over the same period by over three times from 22 to an astonishing 70, the third highest proportion of the school population in the country. In 2009/10 there were just three permanent exclusions in Medway.

Couple this with the two most recent Inspections of local authority arrangements, the first for the protection of children in 2013, which were found to be Inadequate, the second for looked after children services in 2013, also Inadequate.

Surely, now there is now enough evidence for a full investigation into the quality of education and children’s services in Medway taking all these factors into account, followed by a replacement of Education and Children’s Services part of the Children and Adult Services Department which is clearly not fit for purpose, before the children of Medway suffer even more....

Published in News and Comments

Permanent Exclusion numbers in Kent and Medway are heading rapidly in different directions, with an alarming rise in exclusions in Medway. In 2019-10 there were just three permanent exclusions in Medway, climbing to 22 in 2011-12. Just years later, it has soared to 71 pupils in 2013-14, of which fourteen were exclusions by Bishop of Rochester Academy, under its previous sponsors, Rochester Diocesan Board of Education.  Just 9 of the Medway exclusions were of primary school children, that is 10%, against 26, or 30%, in Kent.

Bishop

Meanwhile in Kent, the welcome news is that the reverse is happening as the number has fallen equally dramatically to a total of 87 in 2013-14, just a few more than Medway, although with 6 times as many children at local schools. An earlier article recorded that 203 children were permanently excluded from Kent schools in 2011 – 12, with 250 in the previous year. 

However, the number of SEN statemented primary aged children permanently excluded in Kent after a dip to 5  in 2012-13 has returned to its 2011-12 figure of 19 which is now 69% of the total of 26 primary exclusions, all but two of the others also being on the SEN register. By contrast in Medway no primary pupils with statements were excluded, out of just 9 primary exclusions in total. 

These are surely three very startling and contradictory outcomes in Kent and Medway for permanent exclusions overall and for primary and also primary statemented children.

Published in News and Comments
Thursday, 19 January 2012 17:38

School Exclusion Appeals: Radical Change

I am appalled by proposed changes to School Exclusion Panel procedures, which hand over enormous powers to schools, and especially academies, to get rid of undesirable  children.

Consultation is taking place on these proposals until February 17th. 

A Panel of School Governors will remain to uphold or overturn a headteacher's decision to permanently exclude (expel). Some governing bodies approach this task independently, but many will act to uphold the headteacher's decision as an action of support. Up until now there has been a check - an Independent Appeal Panel (IAP) which includes a serving or recently retired headteacher to ensure the other two members understand the issues. It is proposed to scrap IAPs  and replace them by a Review Panel. For an academy, this can run by the Academy Trust which is hardly independent. 

The powers of the Review Panels are limited to three courses of action: they can....

Published in News Archive
Thursday, 12 January 2012 20:56

Permanent exclusions in Kent

Kent County Council is today debating a paper submitted which provides alarming figures for permanent exclusions in Kent, and especially for children with statements of Special Education in Kent.  Of course there is nothing new in this paper for browsers of this website or readers of Kent on Sunday, for last June I published an article highlighting these issues, although I did not at the time have end of year figures. As a result of my article, Radio Kent headlined the issue and Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council, was interviewed on the BBC Politics show where he described the figures as unacceptable. 

Seven months later, ........

Published in News Archive
There has been considerable debate about the article I wrote for Kent on Sunday, based on figures I  found through FOI, for the very high number of Kent children permanently excluded, especially those with Statements of Special Education Need. The BBC 1 Politics Show for viewers in the South East (not London) is featuring the issue on Sunday at 11 a.m., including.......
Published in News Archive

The following item served the basis for an article in KOS on 11 June 2011, and also triggered the front page news story.

A Freedom of Information request I submitted has revealed a number of alarming features in the pattern of permanent exclusions (expulsions) in Kent schools.

The first two new style academies created in Kent top the list of permanent exclusions between September and Easter, headed by Westlands School in Sittingbourne with 11. Next is Canterbury High School with nine permanent exclusions.

Both these schools previously had outstanding Ofsted reports, so it is difficult to believe they have difficult disciplinary problems.

Other schools with high numbers of permanent exclusions over this period are: Chaucer Technology School, also in Canterbury (nine); Hartsdown Technology College (converting to an academy – eight) and the Marlowe Academy both in Thanet (seven); and Astor College for the Arts in Dover (seven).

The total over this period is rising alarmingly already being almost the same as for the whole of 2009-10.

In general, an excluded child does not just go away, they are moved to another school to be given a fresh chance but, as this will usually be one of the few with vacancies in the area, it just heaps the problems on a possibly struggling school.

Of particular concern is the number of children  with statements of special education needs (SEN) who continue to be permanently excluded, in spite of government policy that “schools should avoid permanently excluding pupils with statements, other than in the most exceptional circumstances”.

While I don’t yet have figures for this year, in 2009-10 out of a total of 168 secondary exclusions 22 were of statemented children, a further 68 being of other children with SEN, together over half of the total.

However, the most astonishing and alarming statistic in this whole survey is that nearly all of the 34 Kent primary school exclusions in the last school year were of children with Special Education Needs, with 13 statemented children and another 18 with SEN.

 

So much for Kent. Meanwhile up in Medway there is a remarkably different picture. The council reports that there were just three permanent exclusions from Medway Secondary Schools in 2009-10 (none statemented), and none from primary schools. For 2010-11 the reported figure is currently zero, although Medway Council has subsequently claimed it is unaware of at least three permanent exclusions from Bishop of Rochester Academy, even though it would have responsibility for those children, so this figure needs to be treated with some caution.

 

This all begs many questions. Firstly, why are the pictures in Kent and Medway so very different?

Medway may only have around one sixth of the children being educated in Kent, but this does not come close to explaining why some Kent schools resort to formal exclusion proceedings so often, whereas Medway can avoid a dramatic, stressful and bureaucratic process so effectively.

Medway schools have always co-operated well over what are called ‘managed moves’ to a fresh school, although whether this will continue when all are independent academies remains to be seen.

How can Kent primary schools exclude children with statements in such numbers, compared to a negligible number of children without special needs, in direct contradiction to the government imperative that this should only happen in exceptional circumstances?

Why does Kent but not Medway have so many exceptional circumstances?

Once again KCC is seeing children who surely deserve the highest standard of care, at the bottom of the pile (see last week’s Kent on Sunday).

Another factor to add to KCC’s Scrutiny Committee investigation into primary school standards.

What is special about Westlands and Canterbury High apart from the fact they are outstanding Ofsted schools, that they need to take this extreme action, effectively forcing these children to less popular and successful schools, whereas others, often in far more difficult situations, appear to be able to manage better? Are they showing the future for academies?

What happens to the schools that become ‘dumping grounds’ for children excluded by other schools better able to cope with them?

Above all, why does KCC not look at Medway’s procedures to learn how to improve these dreadful figures?

Published in Newspaper Articles

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  • Complaints about Academy and Free School Apppeals

    I am regularly asked regarding possible complaints about Admission Appeals to academies and Free Schools, and respond that it is rare such complaints succeed.

    I now have the data for academies and Free Schools for the past two years, and this underlines how difficult it is. Across Kent and Medway there were 53 complaints to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) in the two years, and not one was successful, although two found maladministration without injustice, i.e. the panel made mistakes but these made no difference to the outcome.

    Nationally there were 461 complaints, possible injustice was found in 20 of these, and 36 were found to have maladministration with no injustice.

    Further details and comment below.

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    Written on Monday, 11 September 2017 02:21 1 comment Read 255 times
  • UPDATE 7/9: Expulsion of Year 12 A Level Pupils Illegal

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    This confirms my view on the law after highlighting the case of 22 pupils most of whom were illegally forced out of Invicta Grammar School Sixth Form last summer, because they did not achieve high enough grades at the end of Year 12. Since the publication of A Level results this summer, I have been approached by families across the country who have also been thrown out of grammar and non-selective Sixth forms for not achieving similar illegal requirements, in particular several from St Olave’s Grammar in Orpington, a Voluntary Aided School sponsored by the Anglican Diocese of Rochester.  

    The DfE statement throws open a gaping hole in current practice, with thousands of children across the country being sacrificed in the drive to improve school league table positions. Every one of these should now know or be told their expulsion is illegal and they are entitled to resume their places in Year Thirteen.

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    Written on Monday, 04 September 2017 18:45 3 comments Read 548 times
  • Shame on Holcombe Grammar School and Medway Council

    Update - Read below first: Numbers taking up Victory option have fallen on fist day of term, as have those taking up places at Holcombe. Surely, the mature solution is to admit this has been an almighty blunder and place the residue of the seven currently at Victory, back in Holcombe. All sorted. 

    Holcombe Grammar School, previously Chatham Boys' Grammar, aided and abetted by Medway Council, have carried out one of the most shameful actions I can recall being imposed by a school. Seven boys who have passed the Medway Test, and have been placed on the roll of Holcombe Grammar, are to spend their first secondary school year at low flying non-selective Victory Academy, both schools being part of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust. The boys have been told they are to form part of a newly created Grammar stream, the remainder being made up of boys and girls from the academy none of whom will have been assessed as of Grammar ability by the Medway process. 

    This device has the effect of denying the children an appeal against the decision, which they would surely win given the circumstances as explained below. Instead on Monday morning the seven boys, on the roll of Holcombe Grammar, will be walking up the same road as other pupils in the school, but in Victory Academy uniform to join a class taught by teachers some of whom, according to Medway Council, have no experience in teaching Grammar ability children but who will be trained on the job. As explained below faulty procedures administered by Medway Council and the school have contributed to allowing this travesty to occur. 

    On a wider scale, if this process were judged to be legal, it would have wide reaching consequences. It would allow any Multi Academy Trust in the country the astonishing freedom to transfer children offered places at one school, to be placed in another school in the Trust to be educated. Congratulations again Medway Council on setting an appalling precedent (if indeed it is legal)

    Read more...
    Written on Thursday, 31 August 2017 21:23 4 comments Read 656 times
  • Swale Academies Trust & The Sunday Times: Together with the Magic Money Tree

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    Coincidentally, I had been looking at  the Trust's finances with regard to two Kent Local Authority schools they have managed recently through a contract with KCC, preparing to taking them over as sponsored Academies. The Community College, Whitstable, had a budget deficit of £185,626 at the end of March 2016, Shortly afterwards SWAT took over and within a year the deficit had shot up to £683,642, with a further bill to KCC for staff re-structuring of £219,452.  Shortly before The North School, Ashford, was taken over three years ago it had a budget surplus of £244,000 which fell to £121,277 within four months, and became a deficit of £65,344 by March 2017. KCC is paying the Trust £180,000 p.a. for each school to manage them until conversion into Sponsored  Academies. At that time the two schools' deficits will be settled by KCC, the norm for new sponsored academies. The losses will then be met from KCC maintained school budgets at a cost to all remaining Local Authority schools, so clearly there is  no incentive for SWAT to economise, and apparently no accountability for their actions.

    Read more...
    Written on Sunday, 27 August 2017 18:17 2 comments Read 1011 times
  • Complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman

    Update: You will find a parallel article on complaints about academies, here

    News headlines have reported that there were more complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) against Kent education and social services last year than any other Authority, a total of 89, perhaps unsurprising as KCC is the largest Local Authority in the country. 

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    Written on Saturday, 12 August 2017 10:22 Be the first to comment! Read 403 times
  • Tough Love Academies: Ebbsfleet; Hartsdown; Oasis Isle of Sheppey

    Update: Hartsdown Academy GCSE results at 5 A-C (or new equivalent) are reported to have fallen to 15% for 2017, from 28% last year. 

    I have been looking at Kent schools that have abnormally large numbers of pupils dropping out before completing their statutory education, and trying to work out some of the reasons. Three schools leap to the fore because of their exceptional disciplinary requirements, which are clearly unpopular with families, but I also look at several other schools of note below.

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    Written on Wednesday, 19 July 2017 10:26 11 comments Read 1226 times