Outcome of School Exclusions in Hackney: Deputy Mayor Bramble responds to Scrutiny report
The Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Commission has produced an in-depth review of the position for young people on the verge of permanent exclusion and provision for them following permanent exclusion.
Maintained schools in Hackney collectively provide a high quality of education: 95.1% of children in Hackney attend ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools, compared to 85.5% nationally. However, the Council needs to do further work to reduce exclusions and the disportionality of exclusions for some groups of children and young people.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Education, said: “This is an incredibly important report - and a difficult read - especially some of the moving testimonies made by young people and their families affected by exclusion.
“Exclusions remains one of the areas for improvement the Mayor and I want to see in our family of schools and so we welcome the clear and extensive set of recommendations made by the Commission, some of which we have already begun taking forward.
“The Council has undertaken robust exclusion reduction work, with our relatively new Reducing Exclusions group working hard to reduce, both fixed-term and permanent exclusions, through a range of initiatives and interventions designed to develop whole-school approaches to behaviour and wellbeing, and provide support and intervention for individual pupils vulnerable to exclusion.
“This work has included our guide to reviewing behaviour policies and practice, supporting school transition, providing mental health advice and our No Year 7 Permanent Exclusions pilot. We have provided a good practice checklist for schools with universal and targeted actions that have an impact on our children and young people's wellbeing.
“However, let me be clear, it is unacceptable that exclusion rates at Hackney secondary schools are still significantly higher than national averages and similar London boroughs, and we must collectively do more. Our ethos is to ‘work for every child’, and our focus must be to ensure that we deliver and improve the support and outcomes for our most vulnerable young people.
“The report shows that, while education in general in Hackney is one of the borough's greatest success stories, some of our most vulnerable children have a very difficult journey around the time of or after an exclusion. We need to do better.
“Exclusions are a complex issue in which the needs of all children in the school setting must be considered and balanced. Permanent exclusions must always be a last resort for schools which make the decision. But with still relatively high exclusion rates at secondary level, it is clear collectively we are not doing enough to support children at risk of exclusion, nor to prevent permanent exclusions; and the Council, in particular, is not yet always ensuring the right support is in place once children are excluded, including further support for pupils to get back into mainstream education wherever possible. To tackle this will be a collegiate effort with schools and settings - and the Council is determined to get this right for our children, young people and their families.
“What is also clear is that some pupils with SEND are affected by exclusions, at times because their behaviour and needs are not fully understood. The Council is developing a new SEND strategy, which will support provision in mainstream schools and provide significantly more specialist school places for children with learning needs, which we hope will play a part in addressing this.
“We are also extremely concerned that Black Caribbean children are disproportionately represented amongst exclusions, which shows the need for the Council to work even more intensively to continue to tackle all forms of bias and we must be confident in speaking about this drive and in discussing race. We commit to further developing our Anti-Racist Action Plan, especially in education, in order to accelerate the scale and pace of our work, but also to thinking more progressively too.
“We proudly opened the incredible new site for New Regent’s College earlier this year, it represents the largest single investment in alternative provision in the borough and we are working with them to expand their offer for some of our most vulnerable young people. It was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted in July 2021 and is an emerging example of how well pupils can do when given the dedicated support. While the Ofsted rating is good, we are determined to improve outcomes, and implement the more holistic support many of these young people need.
“In addition, we have committed £350,000 over four years to providing resources to further schools’ work with parents and carers, particularly those who may not have found it easy to engage with schools.
“What is also clear is that other alternative provision is inconsistent, with some rated ‘outstanding’ and other provision not good enough; and we have begun to implement stronger and better commissioning and quality assurance of provision and services to drive improvements for our children.”