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Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Thompson, Cllr McCartney, Cllr Mullen, Cllr Bradford and Cllr Davison.
Report of the Strategic Director, Care Wellbeing and Learning
The Committee received a report which outlined the issues in terms of the number of permanent exclusions and the position of the Pupil Referral Unit (PRU).
It was reported that permanent exclusions have increased significantly in Gateshead across all schools, currently Gateshead’s figures are above the national average. It was noted that any permanent exclusion is a system failure. In Gateshead every child who is permanently excluded is shown in the figures, however other local authorities have a ‘no permanent exclusion’ policy where children are not counted as being excluded but are being educated in places similar to the PRU. Therefore it was acknowledged that Gateshead’s figures are transparent.
It was noted that since 2014/15 the number of permanently excluded children has doubled and the figures continue to rise year on year. The Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) was concerned with this trend and commissioned Dr Jeanne Pratt to lead, with officers and Headteachers, to look at the issue. From the work undertaken so far it is clear this is a complex issue and there is no simple answer.
There is pressure from Ofsted as behaviour is now a factor it considers, as bad behaviour impacts on results. There has also been a change in curriculum requirements which means some children cannot be as easily matched to all children because it is a very academic curriculum. Vocational qualifications, which schools were just developing, are no longer seen as GCSE equivalents. The academisation of failing schools is also an added pressure in addition to the cuts in support areas, such as youth services and education support services, and a 60-70% reduction in the leadership team. All are contributory factors to an increase in permanent exclusions.
As a response work has been ongoing with the Behaviour Support Service to ensure it continues to provide a good service. However, the increasing figures year on year is difficult because of the challenging and often complex nature of the children involved.
It was noted that Ofsted has deemed the PRU as inadequate due to behaviour and attendance. It was acknowledged that this will always be the biggest challenge in terms of the PRU. The PRU will therefore become a MAT (Multi-Academy Trust) from 1st January 2018, as part of River Tees MAT.
Due to the increased number of permanent exclusions the PRU announced that it could no longer accommodate any more pupils. It was therefore agreed that any further pupils excluded would be educated within Education Gateshead in order to find the most appropriate educational opportunities and safeguard/
It was noted that the LSCB report was the start of identifying the complex problem surrounding the increase in permanent exclusions. The LSCB wanted further progress and a conference was organised which involved key stakeholders including; YOT, health, education. From that conference a 14 point Action Plan was developed, which aims to ensure there is work as a whole system to take the right action to reduce the need for permanent exclusions, intervene earlier and ... view the full minutes text for item F28