New plan to cut exclusions from Dudley schools
Education bosses have drawn up a radical new plan to reduce the number of children being excluded from schools in Dudley borough.
Troubled children will receive more support to try and keep them in school or another educational setting rather than being removed and left cut off.
It follows concerns that schools are giving up too easily on children who once excluded are then at risk of being drawn into gangs and crime.
The borough has one of the worst exclusion rates in the country. Its rate for 2016/17 of 0.25 per cent was more than double the national average.
Dudley Council's Wider Inclusion Strategy contains 14 proposals to try and reduce the level of exclusions and ‘off rolling’ - taking pupils off the school register.
Children facing exclusion will be given more support to remain in mainstream education and, where that is not possible, there will be an increased focus on ensuring alternative education is of a high quality to try and give pupils the best chance possible of getting back on track.
More support will also be offered to children whose problems at school are linked to a troubled home life.
It is hoped the strategy, which has been discussed with headteachers in the borough, will improve attendance and help pupils move on to further education, employment or training after leaving school.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has called on schools to cut exclusions amid fears about the links to gang culture and knife crime.
Councillor Ruth Buttery, cabinet member for children and young people at Dudley Council, said: "We know that if a child is excluded from school they are less likely to move on to further education, training or employment, and more likely to go down a negative life path.
"We need work more with families and schools at an earlier point so that support is there for vulnerable children and young people.
"We want to be in a place where pupil exclusion is only ever seen as a last resort - we want all of our children and young people to have the opportunities to succeed."
Parents can give their views on the plan at www.dudley.gov.uk/widerinclusion until Friday, July 19.
Education watchdog Ofsted said while excluding pupils is "not taken lightly" it supports headteachers' right to do so where necessary.
A spokesman said: "Excluding a pupil from school is a serious sanction that is not taken lightly. Headteachers must follow a strict process.
"We support headteachers’ right to exclude when a pupil’s behaviour has become so challenging that it poses risks to other pupils, staff or themselves. Pupils who are formally excluded normally attend a pupil referral unit or some other form of specialist provision. Ofsted has found that more than 80 per cent of pupil referral units are good or outstanding."