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Tuesday, 09 June 2015 17:11

Permanent Exclusions: Kent - Sharp Fall in Numbers; Medway - Sharp Rise in Numbers; SEN - Not Good

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 or Rochester Academy

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.

Note: A few figures in this article are approximate because the Local Authorities are not bound to provide data in small number situations, where there is risk of a child being identified.

Permanent Exclusion

In 2012, KCC published a policy document proposing strategies and a target to reduce the number of permanently excluded children in Kent to 50 by 2015, keeping the same proportion of children with SEN statements excluded. With the figure of 250 permanent exclusions the previous year having now fallen by two thirds, the overall target may yet be achieved on time, although the SEN target is way off course. Although the policy has now been removed from the KCC website you will find my comments here describing how the strategies followed my raising of the issues.

Government has changed the statutory guidance on exclusion since then removing the ability to appeal to an Independent Panel against permanent exclusion. Instead, families can ask for an Independent Panel Review of the process, which only has the ability to request reinstatement of the excluded child rather than order it, as was the case before, if they believe the decision to exclude is wrong. This leaves the school governing body able to reject the recommendation of the Review Body and uphold the exclusion. I had wrongly anticipated this would lead to a rise in the number of permanent exclusions, but this does not appear to be the case in Kent at least.                                                                                                                

Special Education Needs

In Kent there are still 25 statemented children excluded out of the total of 87, far too high a proportion when there is still Statutory Guidance in place stating that “Head teachers should, as far as possible, avoid excluding permanently any pupil with an EHC Plan (previously a statement of SEN)”.

In my previous article I wrote about the Kent data: “since I highlighted the issue the number of statemented children has fallen sharply in 2010/11, to 21, but is still far too high and well above the national average”. Sadly, this number has now risen again to 25, whilst in total 61 of the 87 permanently excluded children were statemented, or on School Action Plus or School Action for their SEN needs.

The fact that at least 19 of the Kent statemented children are amongst the 26 primary school pupils excluded suggests it may simply be that some primary schools could not cope with behaviour such as that displayed by an autistic child who may be incapable of meeting the norms of the school without further support. It is possible this was not forthcoming as budgets are reduced and funding of SEN has changed. In fact, whilst the 48 primary exclusions of 2011-12 have decreased in number, the total of statemented children excluded has stayed the same, the percentage rising from 40% to 69%, an alarming proportion. My previous article highlighted the fact that an earlier figure of 29% of permanent exclusions were of statemented children was deemed unacceptable by Paul Carter, Leader of KCC.

No more than three children were excluded from Special Schools.

The important development of additional places in Units catering for children with autism and the essential facility for youngsters with high level autism at Broomhill Bank North opening in September has never been more important in order to offer such children an appropriate environment with the right expertise to manage them and, whilst I do not have separate figures for exclusions from Units, the number removed from Special Schools remains very low indeed.

The number of children with Statements permanently excluded from Medway schools, is no more than four, although all 9 of the primary school children are either with School Action or School Action Plus on the SEN Register.

So once again, Kent and Medway have very different patterns, Kent excluding a considerable number of statemented primary school pupils, Medway none, also suggesting very different policies operated by the Authorities.  

Affected parents may find a Guide to Exclusions focusing on children with SEN, published by the Kent Parent Partnership Service, very helpful.

You will find the following very sad comment at the foot of this article. What I do not know is  how credible the comment is, or the age of the child but, in any case, sadly I don't think it is an exceptional situation, but it is certainly a cry for help!

 My child has been permanently excluded from mainstream secondary school academy and has ASD and a statement of SEN,since getting a statement to help him,the school say they can't support his needs and needs a special school ,or he would be permanently excluded, which now the case,been left with no education since January, and have been told KCC do not provide home tuition

I would certainly recommend one of the excellent Special Schools in Kent as a way forward on the limited information provided, but KCC does have a responsibility to find the child a suitable school to continue his education.

Elective Home Education

Although I have no hard evidence to prove the case, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that a number of home educated children have been ‘encouraged’ out of schools because of their low academic performance, absence levels or SEN behavioural issues to remove them from government league tables or OFSTED Inspections. They are reportedly being advised to leave ‘voluntarily’ rather than be excluded and this is likely to contribute to the fall in permanent exclusions in Kent, although only adds to the worrying data in Medway.

I will explore this issue further in a later article, which will be about Elective Home Education.

Last modified on Monday, 14 September 2015 20:10

2 comments

  • Comment Link Friday, 12 June 2015 20:14 posted by Jo

    Peter,I've been in contact with case officer several times about my child's education, even tried my local m.p and councillors, who did try to help,but still my child has no education. PETER: Jo, you have now told me where you live and your circumstances. I repeat, I fail to understand why nothing has been forthcoming. If as you describe, it is a disgrace as KCC has a legal responsibility to find you proper provision. The good news is that there is new provision opening in September which appears to fit perfectly. Broomhill Bank North, on the site of the closing Furness School in Hextable is explicitly planned for high functioning ASD children, several of whom have been excluded from mainstream because of behaviour issues caused by their medical condition. Ask to have your papers sent to Broomhill Bank in TW.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 11 June 2015 22:16 posted by Jo

    My child has been permanently excluded from mainstream secondary school academy and has asd and a statement of sen,since getting a statement to help him,the school say they can't support his needs and needs a special school ,or he would be permanently excluded, which now the case,been left with no education since January, and have been told kcc do not provide home tuition,the school were also using the withdrawn exclusion guidance 2015, stating that they never knew it was withdrawn? PETER: Sadly this is too often the case as some schools find it easier to ease children out one way or another. KCC has a responsibility to provide your son with an education, so you should chase your case worker to provide options. Too often, they are now saying - you find somewhere and we will submit your papers, rather than offering a recommendation. In any case, look for one of the ASD schools in Kent - you will find a list on the KCC website or under Individual Schools on this website. Unfortunately, I don't know where you live or your child's age, or I could be more specific.

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