Agenda item

Exclusions Update

Dean Fenton to report.


Recommendation:- To receive the briefing note and Appendix 1 and note the contents.



Consideration was given to a report and appendix by way of a power-point presentation introduced by Dean Fenton, Head of Service, Access to Education, which detailed headline data on Exclusions (permanent exclusions) and suspensions (fixed term exclusions).


The briefing note also set out in detail how the Department for Education (DfE) had undertaken a period of consultation with stakeholders between 3rd February and 31st March, 2022 in relation to revised behaviour in schools and suspension and permanent exclusion guidance.


The Behaviour in Schools Guidance had now been rewritten to more effectively support schools to maintain high standards of behaviour and provide more practical advice for all school staff. The revised guidance was organised into four themes to support schools to address behaviour at all stages.


Section One - looked at how to create and maintain high standards of behaviour, with a focus on developing a clear vision of what expected behaviour looked like and the strong leadership needed to implement this vision.


Section Two - set out how schools should respond robustly to incidents of misbehaviour in order to deter further incidents, restore order and protect pupils from further disruption or harm.


Section Three - looked at how schools could prevent the recurrence of misbehaviour and reduced the likelihood of suspension and permanent exclusion.


Section Four - focused on how schools should respond to specific behaviour incidents.


In terms of the changes to the Suspension and Permanent Exclusion Guidance, this built on the revisions made in 2017 and the evidence gathered through the Timpson Review of School Exclusions.  The DfE were providing further clarifications to the guidance and proposing associated legislative changes.


The presentation provided insight into:-


·              Exclusions and Part-Time Tables.

·              Exclusions Data – 2018/19.

·              Exclusions Data – 2019/20.

·              Exclusions Data – 2020/21.

·              Exclusions 2021/22 as at 1st April, 2022.

·              Exclusions are returning to pre–pandemic levels, with Rotherham seeing incremental rises.

·              Regionally Rotherham remains mid-range in both P/Ex and FTE and exclusions remain a key area of focus and challenge.

·              Use of Part-Time Tables (PTTT).

·              Building on the revisions made in 2017 and the evidence gathered through the Timpson Review of School Exclusions, DfE are providing further clarifications to the guidance and proposingassociated legislative changes.

·              Post pandemic pressures linked to escalating SEMH needs, entrenched persistent absenteeism, educational gaps, and disrupted transitions defining immediate challenges.

·              Across a range of areas of inclusion a number of young people were being seen with very complex needs that span a range of need types, access a range of services, and were struggling to engage with the mainstream learning offer.

·              As part of developments of the focus on inclusive practice it was vital not to fall solely into an education focus, any system wide developments needed to include CAMHS, Children’s Social Care, and Early Help to support a system wide response across this area of education.


Clarification was sought on the figures contained within the presentation around the setting placements for some children, if this was part of the outreach provision, the process before permanent exclusion and the number of one-off incidents leading to permanent exclusion.  It was also confirmed that the figures within the slides were only of notified data to the Local Authority and may not be a truly accurate picture.


The detail provided in the revised behaviour in schools and suspension and permanent exclusion guidance raised some concern in terms of the language used, the perception and the potential for further pressure on Heads in dealing with difficult behaviour.


Reference was also made to the high referrals to CAMHS and the level of support available when more specialist provision was required for students exhibiting more worrying behaviours.


It was also unclear what provision would be made available if Pupil Referral Units were full and there were gaps.  It was uncertain how this compared regionally.


Forum Members welcomed the offer to provide further analysis and context to the permanent exclusion numbers from both secondary and primary sectors with more defined data. Whilst it was noted the tone and language was different this was similar to how it appeared in the White Paper. 


There was also the option of providing a further briefing note with more context for discussion at the High Needs Sub-Group and an earlier meeting could be convened if this was believed to be more appropriate.


Discussion ensued on the difficulties being faced by CAMHS which was a separate entity to the Local Authority.  The Cabinet Member whose portfolio this fell under would also pick this up as a matter of urgency and discuss with relevant personnel where the most vulnerable of children were not getting the intensive support they needed.  This was an area that had been discussed by Scrutiny and further information should be shared on the numbers on waiting lists, how long students had been waiting and how Rotherham compared with the national picture.


Further insight was also provided on the trajectories of permanently excluded children being admitted to Aspire, the increase of one-off incidents and the actions that could be taken for some students to access an alternative mainstream provision.


Examples were given on behaviour related cases requiring urgent CAMHS provision and the various pathways students were placed onto.  Very often the level of need was beyond what could be provided by professionals dealing on the frontline. 


Further discussion ensured on the reliance of CAMHS support and the various provisions available working in partnership, especially for primary aged children (such as MIND).  It was considered helpful to Forum Members to understand the changes and best practice and share date on comparisons both pre and post pandemic.


Agreed:-  (1)  That the briefing note and Appendix 1 be received and the content noted.


(2)  That consideration be given to calling an early meeting of the High Needs Sub-Group to discuss further analysis and receive context as to the permanent exclusion numbers from both secondary and primary sectors with more defined data.

Action:-  Nathan Heath/Dean Fenton

Supporting documents: