8:20am Friday 29th March 2013
By Peter Truman
Council bosses have praised a pilot scheme aimed at reducing the number of pupils excluded from secondary schools.
East Sussex is one of 11 local authorities who have taken part in the three-year-trial run by the Department for Education.
A report revealed the council believed the new approach would “reduce the need for exclusions and better meet the needs of vulnerable pupils”.
The early signs are that trial schools are taking more responsibility for pupils at risk of exclusion, working with each other and local authorities to improve the quality of alternative education in their areas.
It comes as East Sussex saw a drop of 24% in the number of secondary school pupils permanently excluded.
The most common reasons given for a permanent exclusion were persistent disruptive behaviour (28.41%), physical assault to pupils (15.91%), and physical assault to staff (12.5%).
Meanwhile, a total of 1,463 pupils received one or more fixed period exclusion in 2011-12, down 7.8% since 2010-11.
The number of education days lost as a result of fixed period exclusions was 6,375.
Nathan Caine, East Sussex County Council head of education support, behaviour and attendance service, said: “We are one of 11 local authority areas in the country taking part in the DfE trial, which involves us working with local schools to offer different ways of supporting children who might otherwise be excluded.
“It’s about increasing the choice and flexibility for schools and helping them to develop more creative solutions in using alternative provisions for children with additional needs.
“We feel the trial is progressing very well and our participation in it is one of the main reasons why permanent exclusions in secondary schools went down by 24% in the last academic year, part of a 3.4% decrease across all schools.”
While the pilot appears to be having some success in terms of secondary schools, East Sussex will hope a similar scheme could apply to primary schools.
Latest figures showed the number of primary pupils excluded in the county shot up by 47% from 2010-11 to 2011-12.
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