Thursday 20 October 2011

Academies must be responsible for excluded pupils

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The Department for Education has announced pilot areas for a new system to deal with excluded pupils. The system will see schools continuing to fund the education of pupils they permanently exclude and to have these pupils’ attainment included in their overall performance.

This is particularly important as there are believed to be significant exclusions by Academies. If this pilot scheme is extended they will have little to gain from excluding pupils who may not be expected to do well in GCSE’s and who would be taken off the school’s books by excluding them.

 

LGA Lib Dems: 17/10/2011 – Campaign Organisation Press Release

Academies must be responsible for excluded pupils

This morning the Department for Education announced the pilot areas for a new system to deal with excluded pupils. The system will see schools continuing to fund the education of pupils they permanently exclude and to have these pupils’ attainment included in their overall performance.

This initiative comes after pressure from Lib Dem councillors, led by Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who were concerned that new freedoms for the schools converting to academies could see some of the most vulnerable pupils being lost in the system.

The Academies Act gave governing bodies the power to apply for academy status without the prior agreement of the local authority. Academies are currently funded directly from a national agency and are not obligated to co-operate with local authority strategies.

The Education Bill currently going through parliament contains measures to replace exclusion appeals panels with review panels that will not have the power to reinstate excluded pupils.

This initiative is part of a wider campaign by the Local Government Association for clarity over the roles of both schools and councils in the changing education system.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Local Government Liberal Democrats, said:

“With new freedoms must come new responsibilities. Of course schools do not generally take exclusions lightly. Nonetheless we need to be sure that by becoming an academy and removing themselves from local strategies for dealing with excluded pupils, schools are not allowed to simply wash their hands of their most difficult pupils.

“Many of these pupils will have special educational needs or troubled family backgrounds, making it all the more important that they and their parents are not abandoned by the system. Up to now local authorities have taken responsibility for placing these pupils but as schools increasingly take up the freedoms offered by academy status, we must be absolutely clear where the accountability lies.

“So I was pleased to see that the Secretary of State has understood the issue and agreed to pilot a system that sees excluded pupils remain on the school books – both financially and academically.

“I hope the pilots show that this clarity over the school role will provide reassurance for parents, pupils, councillors and also the schools themselves.”


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