Supporting Families
  • banner3
  • banner6
  • banner9
  • banner2
  • banner10
  • banner13
  • banner4
  • banner12
  • banner8
  • banner7
Wednesday, 26 July 2017 22:35

Kent on Sunday 29th June: Exclusion and Home Education (?) figures for Kent and Medway, the latter shocking

Irrelevant Fact: This is the 1000th item of news and information posted on this website. 

You will find the original article on which this item is based, here

In 2009-10, Kent schools permanently excluded 126 pupils, rising to 210 two years later, but falling every year since then, to a low of 58 in 2015-16. Over the same period Medway school exclusions rose from just three pupils excluded to an appalling and record figure of 81 in 2015-16, up 35% on 2014-15. This is the highest exclusion rate in the South East of England, with the secondary school exclusion rate being over twice as large as any other Local Authority. Nationally, Medway is joint 7th worst in the country for permanent exclusions. Further, the average number of days of fixed term exclusion per Medway pupil was 7.3 days, the highest figure in the country. 

In both Local Authorities, the number of families ‘choosing’ Elective Home Education is astonishingly high, with Medway seeing an incredible rise in families taking their children out of school, soaring from 38 to 377 in two years. For some reason, Medway Council is desperately trying to hide the identities of the schools where the worst problems exist.

This article explores the reasons for the stark contrast in outcomes in the two Local Authorities. Government policy is to reduce the number of children excluded from schools, with permanent exclusion (expulsion) used only as a last resort.

Back in 2011, I launched a campaign in conjunction with Kent on Sunday to see the number of Kent permanent exclusions reduced from its place at the top of the national figures, including 41 SEN statemented pupils permanently excluded, 20% of the total, 19 of whom were from primary schools. Paul Carter, Leader of KCC, pitched in with a particular interest in SEN statemented children. Under his leadership KCC set a target of reducing permanent exclusions to less than 50, with a proportional reduction in exclusions of statemented children, by developing strategies to work with all schools.

Since then the county has introduced its Inclusion and Attendance Advisory service which monitors school exclusions and provides challenge, advice and support to schools to reduce exclusions, coming close to meeting both targets, with 14 statemented pupils excluded in 2015-16. Just six schools permanently excluded five or more pupils in one of the two years up to July 2016: Ebbsfleet Academy (8); Folkestone Academy (7); High Weald Academy, Knole Academy, New Line Learning Academy, and Salmestone Primary Academy all with five.

However, it is fair to say that not all academies are in tune with the county strategy, and some use other strategies to ‘lose’ unwanted pupils. Earlier this year, the National Schools Chief Inspector identified that some schools were putting pressure on parents to ‘choose’ Elective Home Education (EHE) to get their children off their books before GCSEs. Although government does not collect figures for EHE, in 2013-14 Kent had by far the highest national figure for children going down this route, at 1112, nearly twice the next largest figure of 593 in Essex. For 2015-16, the Kent figure was still extremely high at 987 new cases.

EHE is popular amongst a number of educated families, who are confident they can offer a better education than school, or the particular school they have been offered. This does not explain the loss of 10 or more pupils from 13 Kent secondary schools in the year leading up to GCSE registration, many serving socially deprived areas. This list is headed up by Orchards Academy that saw 16 pupils leave in the year before GCSEs, followed by Ebbsfleet and Oasis Isle of Sheppey Academies, two of what I call the three Kent ‘Tough Love’ schools, all extremely unpopular with families. I have seen a considerable number of reports about Isle of Sheppey, describing the pressures children were put under to leave (which is unlawful), although the Island situation means that for most there is no alternative school. There is now a thriving Island private tuition industry springing up to cater for some of these children as an alternative to school! Surely this cannot be considered as an appropriate state of affairs, and an investigation is long overdue.

Because Kent follows the rules on Freedom of Information requests, I am able to identify the movement of pupils caused by exclusion or threat of exclusion. However, the situation in Medway is very different, as the Authority is refusing to provide  details, although there has been no problem in previous years. However, the Medway SEND and Inclusion Strategy document for 2016 -2020 records that: ‘In the year 2013-14, 70 children and young people were permanently excluded from a Medway school. This exclusion rate, 0.16% of the state-funded school age population, is the highest percentage bar one other authority. …The average number of days of fixed term exclusion per Medway pupil was 7.37 days: the highest in England’.  Unfortunately, although this is described as a strategy document it contains NO RECOMMENDATIONS WHATEVER as to how to improve matters and the figures have only got worse.

What we do know is the data in the introduction above, making Medway one of the worst Local Authorities in the country for exclusions, with more pupils permanently excluded than in Kent, which has six times as many children. This is a problem that has been building for some years as demonstrated by the 2013-14 figures. Medway had 377 children transferring to EHE in 2015-16, again proportionally far higher than Kent, a truly astonishing tenfold increase over the two years since 2013-14 when there were just 38. As to which schools are losing the most children by one or both of the above strategies, whilst I can make guesses, Medway Council refuses to provide the answers – what is it trying to hide?

Of course, some may argue that these young people get what they deserve and should be flung out on the streets or subject to punitive regimes. Many will have troubled backgrounds or medical conditions (the proportion of young people with autism who are excluded is far too high), but other children in the class have a right to be able to learn without interruption, and the main cause for exclusion in both Kent and Medway (over a third in Medway schools), is persistent disruptive behaviour.  Local Authorities become responsible for educating these pupils, to try and avoid them become a long-term cost to society but every one who drops out of school with no genuine provision made is at risk of becoming a far greater cost to society through their later behaviour. What this data shows is a very different approach to handling pupils at risk of exclusion in Kent and Medway. KCC has worked out a range of strategies including early intervention to reduce that risk, working with maintained schools and academies, although some individual schools are still happy simply to pass the problem onto someone else. Medway’s strategy document, having identified it has one of the worst problems in the country then offers no way forward, so it is no surprise it has deteriorated further, although in response to these figures the Council says it will continue to hold schools to account (although this has clearly had no effect so far!).

I have publicly identified Kent schools with high exclusion rates in the past, and been gratified to see numbers fall, possibly as a consequence. Surely Medway schools failing their communities should be equally placed in the spotlight!

Last modified on Sunday, 11 March 2018 17:08

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated.
Basic HTML code is allowed.

Latest News & Comments

Just click on a news item below to read it in full. Feel free to subscribe to the news via the email link to the right or the RSS Feed at the bottom of the page. Please note that the 800 or so regular subscribers who receive each news item directly are not included in the number of readers recorded below the item. If you have a view on any item posted, please leave a comment. Also feel free to suggest items of news, or areas where comment is needed to: peter@kentadvice.co.uk. \nNews items appear as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.

  • Holmesdale School: Further Revelations

    Swale Academies Trust (SAT) has engaged in a series of email exchanges with Kent County Council staff, which have been forwarded to me following a Freedom of Information Request. These culminate in serious allegations that KCC tried to block the Trust’s attempts to prepare the failing Holmesdale School for the best possible start in January.

    In particular Swale Academies Trust alleges that: KCC's deliberate and deeply damaging procrastination over the awarding of the support contract left the school without support from June 2018 to late November 2018; KCC attempted to block the appointment of a suitably experienced Headteacher to take on the Headship of Holmesdale at incredibly short notice; and that KCC refused to engage in SAT’s offer to provide Holmesdale with a full complement of teachers for January.

    Read more...
    Written on Wednesday, 09 January 2019 19:58 2 comments Read 263 times
  • Rochester Grammar: Radical Change With Cash for Pupil Premium

    The Rochester Grammar School (RGS) is proposing a radical change to its admission rules from September 2020. This follows the government decision to award some £3 million to each of 16 grammar schools including RGS, to enable them to expand on  condition that these schools have plans  to improve access for pupils on Pupil Premium  and to undertake effective partnerships with local primary schools and non-selective secondary schools, to contribute to improved educational outcomes across the wider system.

    .Rochester Grammar

    The school, which is part of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT), has gone out to Consultation to scrap its current academic super-selective status which sees the great majority of its pupils selected through high scores. It plans to become a school that gives admission priority to girls on Pupil Premium from 2020. Then, after several smaller categories (below) it will prioritise local children who have passed the Medway Test no matter what their scores. Given that the Trust runs two Medway grammar schools and has proposed identical admission criteria for both, except that the other school, Holcombe Grammar, is to give no priority whatever to Pupil Premium, so this does not appear a principled decision,  

    I look at wider aspects of local implications of the grammar school expansions in a separate article

    Read more...
    Written on Friday, 28 December 2018 16:57 3 comments Read 202 times
  • Pupil Premium Grammar School Expansion: Kent and Medway (revised)
    Revision of Previous Article
    Kent County Council has been highly pro-active in promoting grammar school opportunities for pupils on Pupil Premium which has no doubt contributed to the fact that over three quarters of its 32 grammar schools already make provision for this in their Admissions Policies. Kent now appears to have been punished for its success in following government policy!

    Medway Council appears not have noticed the shift in priorities and as a result just one out of the six grammar schools currently has a relevant policy. Certainly, there is no evidence that Rochester Grammar, the one local school offered funds for expansion in return for developing a social mobility policy, has ever shown any interest before in such a development. Further, such an expansion when Medway has a large surplus of grammar school places for girls, appears pointless, and could place Chatham Grammar School for Girls at risk through lack of numbers as explained here. It in turn is now chasing London girls and so should survive. 

    I look below at issues in Kent and Medway in more detail. 

    Read more...
    Written on Friday, 28 December 2018 18:49 Be the first to comment! Read 557 times
  • Controversial Proposal for New Primary Provision for Girls only in Medway

    Rainham School for Girls, a non-selective secondary school in Medway,  is consulting on a controversial scheme to set up the first new primary section for girls only in the country. It would have an intake of 60 girls, beginning in 2020-21. There is currently just one all through girls school in the country,  a girls' private school founded in the 19th century that only became a state school recently, and remains a member of the Independent Girls School Day Trust, a very different set up to that proposed for Rainham Girls. There are just seven single sex state primary schools nationally, five of which are conformist Jewish schools. 

    Rainham School for Girls Logo 

    The only reference to single sex education in the thin consultation document is the rather tentative one of: ‘We are keen to explore with stakeholders the concept of single sex primary provision, which we feel is an exciting prospect that will enable us to not only focus on the best learning strategies for girls, but will ensure that they have the chance to explore all aspects of learning, challenging stereotypes’.

    The document also offers little rationale for extending the age range.

    ‘The offer to extend our all-inclusive wrap around provision to Primary age children is an exciting one. The biggest impact of extending the school’s age range would be on a pupil’s learning journey.  The school’s ethos of high expectation and aspiration, in addition to having a common learning language from the age of 4 through to 18 will significantly increase a pupil’s progress path, leading to successful, well rounded young people’, which offers nothing to the over 80% of Year 7 girls who would be joining Rainham Girls from other schools.

    Read more...
    Written on Sunday, 25 November 2018 06:02 7 comments Read 562 times
  • Exclusions Kent and Medway 2017-18

     Kent permanent exclusions have fallen by a remarkable 40% from last year to 49 pupils permanently excluded in 2017-18, in sharp contrast to nationally rising rates. No Kent school has more than five permanent exclusions. In 2011-12 there were an astonishing 210 Kent pupils permanently excluded more than any other Local Authority in the country, whereas now it is one of the very lowest. 

    Other Headlines:

    For 2016-17, even before this fall, Kent had the lowest rate of permanent exclusions in the South East. Kent fixed term exclusions have risen slightly to 10,698, an astonishing 11% or 1211 pupils of which are from one school, the secondary department of Folkestone Academy the rate of exclusion having shot up since 2016-17. Next comes Oasis Isle of Sheppey Academy with 786 exclusions. In 2016-17, the last year for which I have national comparisons, Kent fell below the national average for fixed term exclusions for the first time. 

    For Medway, one sixth of the size of Kent, the 2017-18 provisional number of permanently excluded pupil, is 58 (there may be additional exclusions to record),  down from the previous year’s final figure of 65. Five of Medway’s 18 secondary schools have more than five permanent exclusions, headed up by Brompton Academy with 11. I don’t yet have the Medway data for Fixed Term Exclusions.

    Read more...
    Written on Friday, 02 November 2018 20:14 1 comment Read 444 times
  • Fixed Term Exclusions at Turner Schools 2017-18: Folkestone Academy and Martello Primary -An appalling double record

    Further Update: See new article here. 

    Updates: There is more information relating to Martello Primary, below. I have now published an article setting out  exclusion data across Kent for 2017-18, which serves as the basis for this item. 

    Folkestone Academy had more than one in every seven of all fixed term exclusions across Kent’s 101 secondary schools in 2017-18. That is just under one exclusion for every pupil in the school, and over twice as many as in 2016-17. This shocking and startling figure is just the latest in a number of revelations about happenings in the school revealed on this website. It closely follows the news that the school has dropped in GCSE performance this summer to become the fifth lowest performer in both Progress and Attainment. In 2016-17 it was  in the top half of non-selective schools in the county.

    Folkestone Academy 2

    Meanwhile, the new Martello Primary, taken on by Turner Schools in January 2017, has the second highest Fixed Term exclusion rate out of all of Kent's 463 primary schools with one exclusion for every four pupils. . 

    These fly in the face of statements by the school’s Chief Executive in the TES that: Saxton agrees with Lemov that a structured approach to behaviour is a way of reducing exclusions. She says that prior to joining Turner Schools, Folkestone Academy was the highest excluding school in Kent, but it is now reintegrating pupils into mainstream education.’  Whilst the claim itself was false then, it is certainly true now, the 1211 fixed term exclusions being more than double any other school in Kent (with the exception of Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey with 786). This equates to 85% of the statutory aged secondary school body, a dramatic rise from 2016-17, for most of the year under the previous management of 35%. 

    “Teacher capacity and skill is the best antidote there is to exclusion of students,” he (Professor Lemov) says. “The people who don’t work in high need communities often misunderstand that and think that order leads to suspensions and exclusions, but it’s the opposite. “Behaviours that lead to exclusions happen when students perceive there to be no limits and no expectations and no rules.”  So there you have it!

    It was 'education guru' Mr Lemov who, in a recent training session for the Turner Trust staff compared Folkestone with an ‘American Rust Belt City’, presumably in an attempt to explain the poor performances away.

    Read more...
    Written on Saturday, 03 November 2018 11:21 3 comments Read 795 times