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Thursday, 11 November 2021 23:12

Exclusions in Kent and Medway Schools, 2020-21


Update 23 November: I have just discovered that the 1120 suspensions in 2017-18, which is equivalent to 82.3% of the total secondary roll of Folkestone Academy, was over twice as high a proportion as any other Kent secondary school in the surrounding three years (the latest available). At the time the school was led by Dr Jo Saxton, recently appointed Regulator of Ofcom, who believes, along with one of her gurus that: Behaviours that lead to exclusions happen when students perceive there to be no limits and no expectations and no rules’. Next came Bishopsgarth Academy in Stockport in 20191-20, with just 40.3%.  

Covid continues to exercise a strong effect on school exclusions across Kent and Medway primary and secondary schools, with a third fewer fixed term cases in 1920-21, compared to pre-pandemic 2018-19. Much of the decrease will be down to all schools being closed for 39 school days in the lockdown last year, and a sharply increased pupil absence brought about by children infected or else closely connected with another child who has contracted the condition.  

Waterfront UTC in Medway, a regular in the list of secondary high excluding schools, heads it for 2020-21 with an astonishing 46% of the statutory roll figure, although a number of these will be pupils with multiple exclusions. Victory Academy, also in Medway comes second with a remarkable increase from 66 fixed term exclusions pre-pandemic two years previously to a record 403, being the equivalent of 42.1% of the statutory roll. This follows a Special Ofsted Inspection into reported concerns about the behaviour and attitudes of pupils, see below. Other  schools regularly in the list are Astor College, also on 42.1%, High Weald Academy 38.9% (now closing permanently next summer), John Wallis CofE Academy on 38.1% and Charles Dickens School on 33.1%, together with the other local University Technical College, the Leigh UTC, with 28.8%, and Robert Napier School in Medway with 22.5% . The average exclusion rate across Kent’s Non-Selective schools was 10.6%.

The number of exclusions at many primary schools varies considerably year on year, probably a property of small numbers, with a single case of a child attracting multiple exclusions capable of making a significant difference. However, overall numbers have been falling significantly for each of the past three years, They are led in 2020-21 by Northdown Primary School in Thanet with 11.4% of its roll number excluded, up from just 4% the previous year. The Inspire Free School in Medway, a secondary special school catering mainly for children with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs, deserves particular mention, excluding each of its 44 children 1.75 times on average. However, this is lower than 2019-20’s incredible 2.2 times, a unique record for any institution across Kent and Medway, and explored further below, along with two other Special Schools.   

There was a total of just three permanent exclusions in primary schools and eight in secondaries across Kent, a record low, with the story of how the secondary figure has been brought down from 161 ten years ago, and my part in it, told below.  Medway had 11 permanent exclusions, all from secondary schools, also a record low. 

I also look at the latest published national and local Authority data below for 2019-20, including Kent's remarkable sixth lowest proportion of secondary permanent exclusions out of 150 LAs. Both Kent and Medway are also below average in the number of fixed term exclusions carried out. 

Exclusions and High Exclusion Rates Across Kent and Medway

Kent School Exclusions 2018-21
  2020-21 2019-20  2018-19
Fixed Term
 6032  5448  8816
Fixed Term 
 1121  1347  1902
 12  29
3  11  14


Medway School Exclusions 2018-21
  2020-21 2019-20  2018-19
Fixed Term
 1894  1759  1680
Fixed Term 
 224  455  504
 11  27


 0  0  4

High Excluding Schools
Secondary Schools
Two years ago, the list of high excluders featured three of what I labelled the four ‘Tough Love’ schools in Kent. Ebbsfleet Academy had been the fourth, but is now under a new and very different management style. Last year Hartsdown Academy scrapped ‘Tough Love’ and exclusions nosedived, as did those from Folkestone Academy after the previous CEO left, en route to becoming Ofcom Regulator. This year Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey also dropped out, although there are suggestions it has adopted a different range of sanctions, so it appears that ‘Tough Love’ is rightly out of favour in Kent although The Abbey School in Faversham appears to have taken it up, see below. In my 2020 article, I looked more closely at the exclusion records of Tough Love Folkestone Academy, Hartsdown Academy and Oasis Isle of Sheppey Academy, along with other high excluders Astor College, Charles Dickens, High Weald  and John Wallis that are also in this year’s list. High Weald has paid the price for the multiple leadership deficiencies of the school and Academy Trust, and is now to close at the end of the school year. I look below at five further high excluders: The Abbey School; Leigh UTC; The Robert Napier School, Victory Academy, and Waterfront UTC in Medway.

When looking at fixed-term exclusions for a school, I use the percentage of the statutory roll (Years 7-11) as the fairest measure when looking at the ranking of schools. So Victory Academy with its 957 Year 7-11 pupils and 403 exclusions in the table below, had the highest proportion at 42.1%, the same as the much smaller Astor College with 668 Year 7-11 pupils which had 281 exclusions. 

 Secondary Fixed Term Exclusions
Kent and Medway 2021*
 School Exclusions
Roll Jan 21
Waterfront UTC (M) 75 163 46.0%
Victory Academy (M) 403 957 42.1%
Astor College 281 668 42.1%
High Weald Academy 100 257 38.9%
John Wallis CofE 376 1072 35.1%
Charles Dickens 368 1113 33.1%
Leigh UTC 160 556 28.8%
Robert Napier (M) 206 914 22.5%
Hugh Christie 168 754 22.3%
Abbey 186 1016 18.3%
Notes: (M) denotes a Medway school
*Data is from a KCC Freedom of Information Request
**The Statutory Roll is the number of pupils Years 7-11 in the school according to the School Census in January 2021. 
*** The percentage is that of exclusions over Statutory Roll. The number of exclusions will include some pupils who have been excluded more than once.

Primary Schools 

Primary Fixed Term Exclusions
Kent and Medway 2021
Northdown, Thanet 34 299 11.4% 
Long Mead, Tonbridge 13 123 10.6%
South Borough, Maidstone 43 439 9.8%
Holy Family Catholic, Maidstone 16 185 8.6%
Twydall, Medway 27 320 8.4%
Downsview, Swanley 14 187 7.5%

Following the schools in the table, come three schools all with the equivalent of 7.4% of their statutory rolls excluded: St John’s CofE, Canterbury; St Laurence in Thanet, CofE Junior; and St Mary’s Catholic in Medway; with a considerable gap down to the next school in the case of the two Kent schools. 

Special Schools
There are just three high excluding Special schools, out of a total of 69 across Kent and Medway, all catering for children with behavioural difficulties, and with Education, Health and Care Plans. They are led by the Inspire Free School in Chatham, a secondary special School catering for children with SEMH (Social, Emotional and Mental Health) as their primary need. Last year the school administered 76 exclusions for its 44 children (171%).  See below for details. The other two are both in Dover, Portal House School School (Behaviour, Emotional and Social Difficulties), 53 exclusions for its 67 secondary aged children 79% and Elms School (Behaviour and Learning), 66 exclusions for its 135 children aged five to 16 (43%). Elms appears to be going through a period of turbulence, with a new headteacher arriving soon, so there may be a change of ethos here.

Clearly, the nature of the children these three schools are catering for mean that they have very challenging pupil populations and it would be inappropriate for me to make much comment about their particular situations. In all, there are seven Kent Special Schools which cater for similar conditions, with just the one in Medway, Inspire Free School. None of the other Special Schools in either Authority come near these three in terms of exclusion rate, suggesting a very different way of managing difficulties. 

Permanent Exclusions

Ten years ago, there were 161 permanent exclusions from Kent schools, and no one in the Authority appeared concerned about this extremely high figure, one of the largest proportions of school populations in the country. I took this up as a campaign, and the story is outlined here. Sir Paul Carter CBE, then just Paul Carter, Leader of KCC, needed no persuasion to come onside, along with the campaigning newspaper Kent on Sunday, and pressure was brought to bear on schools. This year’s total of just 12 permanent exclusions across the county marks the latest chapter in a story of continually falling figures. Schools have developed various strategies to tackle the issues of difficult children, one of the most successful being an agreed transfer of potential transgressors between school, thus avoiding the trauma of expulsion with a second chance being offered. I don't have data describing the scale of this, as in Kent central records are not kept, but in Medway two years ago, there were 52.. 

Meanwhile, Medway appeared to be heading in the opposite direction with regard to permanent exclusions up until 2018, although the last three years have seen much lower figures.

National Data, 2019-20
These are the latest published figures for Kent, by some way the largest Local Authority of the 150 in the country, and Medway.  
Kent & Medway Local Authority
Exclusion Rates 2019-20
Exclusion Rate
LA Position
Nationally (150)
1st Equal
(of 37!)
Fixed Term
5.69 7.05 7.43 44th 79th
Fixed Term
0.98 0.89 1.00 88th 75th


The Sixth lowest permanent exclusion rate for secondary schools in the country, behind the Scilly Isles with its one school; Tower Hamlets, the Local Authority where our new Director of Education, Christine McInnes was appointed from in March this year;  together with Bristol, Cambridgeshire and Milton Keynes.  


Next: Individual High Excluding Schools

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Last modified on Saturday, 27 November 2021 19:07

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