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Agenda item


To provide an update on the implementation of the Inclusion Plan and the impact it is having on numbers of exclusions.


Mr Paul Turner, Head of Service for School Standards, Safeguarding and Inclusion provided an update on the implementation of the Inclusion Policy and number of fixed term and permanent exclusions made by schools in 2018/2019.


In response to questions, Mr Turner advised that some schools were co-operating more than others, however, the majority did support the aims of inclusion and were more willing and capable of providing support and education to children and young people than might have previously been excluded.


The Committee highlighted the increasing number of parents choosing to home educate their children as an area of concern. Mr Turner concurred that elective home education was a major worry and advised that the majority of parents had indicated that they had chosen to home educate due to concerns that their child was not receiving appropriate and high quality mainstream education. Members further noted that whilst the number of fixed term and permanent exclusions in some schools had decreased, it was in those same schools than the number of children leaving to be home educated had increased. It was noted that there was no evidence to prove a link, however, it was important to note the relationship between the two figures.


Members went on to consider safeguarding concerns relating to absence from schools and queried whether partners were working together sufficiently to deal with pupil absence. Mr Turner advised that processes were in place to pass information from the Police to schools and that the links between school absence and anti-social behaviour had been noted. Key concerns regarding the number of pupils attending school on a part-time basis were also noted. It was reported that the sharing of data had improved in addition to the quality of data.


The reduction in pastoral care provided by schools was discussed and it was considered that care and support was an area for improvement. It was noted that unaddressed issues with bullying were often cited as a reason for poor attendance at school and influenced parents in choosing to home educate their child. The Council worked with parents as much as possible, however, was limited in its role. Educational attendance orders were considered when appropriate.


Mr Turner referred to the Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) and noted that numbers remained high, however, there had been a reduction in numbers and over 100 children were in the current Year 11 and would therefore be leaving shortly. It was considered that further support for schools provided by an additional Inclusion Officer would reduce the number of children and young people in the PRU further and ensure that the children who did attend were appropriately attending. It was further noted that schools were improving their understanding regarding the current needs of children and young people.


In response to a question, Mr Philip Thompson, Head of SEND advised that a temporary special educational mental health (SEMH) school had been established within the PRU whilst the completion of the new SEMH free school was awaited, which had resulted in the appearance of a large number of children with special needs currently in the PRU. It was noted that there had been delays in the opening of the new school and when opened it would provide 48 places.


The Committee agreed to receive a further update on Inclusion in approximately six months.

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