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Major new plan to cut exclusions from Dudley schools

By Richard Guttridge | Dudley | News | Published:

Radical plans to cut the number of school exclusions in Dudley are being drawn up.

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.

Some of the key proposals include:

  • No pupils to be excluded for behaviours directly linked to their special educational needs and disabilities.
  • To agree in principle that pupils should not be off rolled in Year 6 or KS4 – a critical time around exams.
  • Where a student remains on the school register, the funding directly allocated to them will be used for their education.
  • To ensure that early help support is provided where a pupil’s behaviour is directly linked to issues at home.
  • To create special Curriculum Hubs for Wider Inclusion and School Readiness.

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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.

Exclusions linked to violence crime

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.

He said: “I have been highlighting for some time the link between the rising level of school exclusions and violent crime.

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"In the West Midlands the number of permanent school exclusions have almost doubled in just a few years. The situation is particularly concerning in Dudley.

“As a former headteacher, I fully understand the importance of protecting other children from disruptive behaviour and schools must always reserve the right to exclude pupils.

Police chief David Jamieson believes there is a link between exclusions and crime

“However many slip through the cracks and find themselves unsupported and uneducated. Before too long those young people, too often, become involved in violent crime.

“The alarming trend of excluding or ‘off-rolling’ children to protect a school’s league table position has to stop and I welcome Dudley council’s efforts to tackle the issue.”

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 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 dudley.gov.uk/widerinclusion until 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."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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