Nearly 700 children excluded from Camden schools in a year, data reveals as the Town Hall pledged to focus on why so many were being removed from classes.
Councillors reviewing the new research gathered that the people this was affecting the hardest were people from black backgrounds. Experts warned earlier this year that there could be a link between the level of exclusions and a rise in violent youth crime. The data presented to the cross-party children’s scrutiny committee on Monday evening showed that 679 pupils were excluded, either on a permanent or fixed-term basis – a figure which amounts to 3 percent of the school population. Analysing the statistics, Camden found that 9.7 per cent of those excluded in the borough were from a Somali background while 9 percent are black Caribbean.
Martin Pratt, executive director of supporting people, who presented the data to the committee, said: “There is still this worrying trend, and we are going to continue to focus on that.” “We will be renewing our commitment to work with community organisations and schools to think about how to address that issue. It is something we have to understand and tackle head on. It is quite shocking to see it and it gives us the chance to understand it better.”
The council has said that exclusion rates are expected to drop. Fixed term exclusions where a pupil may be excluded for one or more fixed periods up to a maximum of 45 school days in a year, have so far dropped to 446, compared with 844 during the spring and summer school terms last year. The large numbers in spring last year was said to be driven by a single school, where a new behaviour policy was introduced following an Ofsted inspection which concluded that the school required improvement.
There were 25 permanent exclusions in 2017-18. In March, Labour councillor Samata Khatoon suggested setting up a special panel to carry out evidence-based research to see if excluded children were being let down due to gangs and youth crime.
“I don’t want to lose track of that,” she said at Monday’s meeting, adding: “Recently there has been another stabbing in Gospel Oak and another child was stabbed [last month] who had been excluded from school. What we need is more evidence from young people excluded from school. I think there is more we can learn.” “Nobody knows what is going on. We need to know what we are doing for the Afro-Caribbean community and what kind of provision we need to provide for them.”
Mr Pratt said: “We are not just concerned about exclusion, but we are concerned about what that means for the lives of those children.”
Education chief Councillor Angela Mason said: “We do need to do more with parents with children at risk of exclusion and how to support them.”
A youth campaigner is being called to help students understand how to deal with conflict at a Camden secondary school. They will hold workshops and the aim is to support students at risk of being drawn into crime. They will be holding after-school sport sessions as part of the programme. The initiative is being funded by a £25,000 grant from Camden Council’s youth safety taskforce, set up after a young man was murdered in 2017.
Headteacher Nicholas John said: “It’s about what you can do to change behaviour before it gets to that point.” Mr John said the school is starting by looking into which pupils at the school will benefit most from the programme.
Hiri Arunagiri, who works on early intervention at a school, said: “We can notice trends and if we feel something isn’t right, we can give bespoke support to those students. We have got to get better at integrating and working with different communities.”
Mr John said: “Schools are part of the solution rather than the problem; we are very aware all of the time.” He added: “Sometimes you are working with a child and then realise you are not making an impact, not changing their behaviour, not changing what they do on a Friday night, not changing where they are going or who they are going out with.” “I think it is about scaling up all of us in the community toward making an impact and change.”
School Exclusion Procedures
A guide for parents
This is to help understand what happens when your child is excluded from school and it should be treated as general guidance.
Types of exclusions:
- Fixed term: for 15 school days or less, including lunchtime exclusions where 1 lunchtime is counted as half a day in exclusion terms
- Fixed term: for 16-45 school days
Rights of representation for fixed term exclusions:
The governing board of the school or academy has a duty to consider any representation you may wish to make for exclusions of up to 15 school days per term, but they can’t overturn any exclusion which is less than 6 school days and are not required to sit to consider an exclusion of this length. Write to a clerk of the governing board at the school to ask for them to arrange this type of meeting.
For fixed-term exclusions longer than 15 days per term and permanent exclusions, the clerk must arrange a meeting to consider the exclusion, whether you request one or not. You, the headteacher and normally the local authority Exclusions Officer will be informed of the date and time of this meeting. The governing board is able to uphold the exclusion or direct re-instatement.
Education during fixed term exclusions:
Exclusion from school does not mean exclusion from education. Emphasis is placed on the requirement for parents or carers, schools and governing boards to ensure that pupils are engaging in education whist they are excluded from school. For the first 5 school days of exclusion parents are legally required to make sure that their child is not present in a public place during school hours without reasonable justification and if they are caught, there may be a fixed penalty notice given or they may be prosecuted of they fail to do so. Parents should make arrangements to ensure that adult supervision and an appropriate place to do schoolwork is available. Schools and academies are required to supply work to be completed during this time.
For fixed period exclusions longer than 5 school days the school is required to make arrangements for your child to receive appropriate full-time provision, generally off site from the 6th school day. The duty to ensure this is in place rests with the school or academies governing board. If such arrangements are not detailed in the exclusion letter, it is advisable to contact the school during the first 5 days of the exclusion to discuss what arrangements are being made.
The majority of fixed term exclusions are issued for 5 days or less. Maintained schools have the power to direct a pupil off-site for education to improve his or her behaviour. You will be involved in any discussions regarding changes to your child’s education.
Education following a permanent exclusion:
From the 6th day of a permanent exclusion responsibility falls to the Local Authority to make appropriate arrangements to provide for your child. The Exclusions Officer or headteacher of your local Learning Centre will contact you directly regarding this.
A permanent exclusion means that a child will not be allowed to return to that school or academy and his or her name will be removed from the school roll. During an exclusion of any length it is extremely important that your child does not go onto the school or academy site at any time unless invited to, for example to attend a Discipline Committee meeting.
If your student is permanently excluded careful consideration must be made to ensure that the next educational provision is appropriate to meet your child’s needs. Normally, every effort is made to seek a place for your child in a nearby school. However, it may be that your child’s needs would be best met by an individual full-time programme at one of the Local Authority Learning Centres, also known as pupil referral units (PRUs). Such individualised provision will centre on a core of essential subjects but will also include other activities which reflect the pupil’s interests and aspirations. You will be fully involved in and informed of any decisions made.
Such arrangements set up for your child will be based on strategies to try to prevent similar problems re-occurring. It will make every attempt to make educational provision which will allow your child to succeed.
The role of the school or academy’s governing board
Once a decision has been made to exclude, you should be notified immediately and should receive written confirmation without delay. Where parents or carers have requested it, the clerk will make arrangements for a Discipline Committee meeting to be held within 6 and 50 days for any exclusion lasting less than 16 school days, and within 6-15 days for any exclusion exceeding 15 school days.
This meeting will consist of 3 members of the governing board (who must have had no previous involvement in your child’s discipline history), parents/carers and the Headteacher and in most cases, the LA Exclusions Officer whose purpose in attending is to ensure that the guidance relating to the exclusion process is adhered to and to advise governors as to how similar situations have been dealt with in other schools. If you wish your child to attend you should inform the clerk prior to the meeting.
Most governors feel it is important for the pupil, particularly secondary aged pupils, to attend and have an opportunity to speak and answer questions. You may also bring someone to support you and again, the clerk should be informed prior to the meeting. You may wish to submit a written statement to the clerk who will ensure that it is circulated to all attending, along with any written statement or log of incidents that the headteacher chooses to circulate prior to the meeting.
At this meeting the headteacher will explain how he or she reached the decision to exclude. You will then have the opportunity to present your case. The government board will then ask both parties questions and hear from the LA Exclusions Officer. They will then ask the Headteacher, LA Exclusions Officer and you to leave the meeting whilst they decide whether to uphold or overturn the decision. It is important that you attend this meeting to voice any concerns or views you have regarding the exclusion.
However, if you feel that you will be unable to attend you may submit a written statement requesting that it be placed on your child’s file alongside the exclusion letter. You may do this for any length exclusion.
The governing board has the power to direct the headteacher to re-admit the pupil or to uphold the headteacher’s decision of exclusion. If they decide to reinstate your child, he or she will be readmitted to the school or academy immediately, unless a planned re-admission programme is set for him or her, although they cannot attach conditions.
There is no further appeal opportunity for fixed-term exclusions beyond this. If however you think the exclusion relates to a disability your child has and you think disability discrimination has occurred, you have the right to appeal, and / or make a claim to the SEN and Disability (SEND) Tribunal.
The role of the Independent Review Panel in permanent exclusions:
If the government board is deciding to uphold the headteacher’s decision to permanently exclude, you will be given the opportunity to request that an Independent Review Panel considers the exclusion. The panel will be convened by the Legal and Democratic Services Department of Dorset Council for maintained schools and by the Academy Trust for Academies. Alternatively if you disagree with the decision but do not wish for the IRP to sit, you may ask to submit a written statement and supporting paperwork to be placed on your child’s school file.
If you decide to request a review you should speak to the LA Exclusions Officer immediately as there are specific deadlines governing the process. A written submission (including a completed form) must be received within 15 days from the date of the Discipline Committee’s letter confirming the permanent exclusion. The Independent Review Panel is independent from the LA or Academy and is responsible for hearing the case in its entirety before reaching a decision.
The role of the panel is to review the governing boards’ decision not to re-instate a permanently excluded pupil. The panel may uphold the exclusion decision or recommend that the governing board reconsiders their decision to exclude the child.
Parents and carers have the right to request that an SEN expert attends the Independent Review Panel to provide impartial advice to the panel on how special educational needs might be relevant to the exclusion.
Once all of these procedures have been completed and if the decision is upheld, your child’s name will be removed from the school’s or academy’s roll and, for pupils of compulsory school age, responsibility falls to the LA to arrange appropriate education.
We do understand that this can be an extremely stressful and worrying time for parents, carers and pupils. It is important that you keep in touch with the LA at all times.