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Timpson Review on Pupil Exclusions: Government determined to curb off-rolling

12 Aug

I           Exclusion Vignette

A few years ago, a group of inspectors on their way to a school which was to be brought under the watchdog’s microscope were grounded a few hundred yards from their destination because their car had broken down.   Three young lads who saw them offered to help.  They fished out the jack, raised the car on it, opened the bonnet, fiddled with the engine and in little time resolved the problem and set the engine running.

The inspectors were grateful, overjoyed and effusive in their thanks.   They asked these young men who they were and what they had been planning to do.

“We are pupils at ……. School. We were heading back to our homes.”

“Why?” asked the inspectors, “especially as it is a working day.”

“Oh,” said the second boy, “we were told to go home by the headteacher because we have been described as disruptive and informed that inspectors would be visiting the school.”

I am not sure what the outcome of that inspection was as it happened some time ago.  However, it is not unknown for schools and academies to engage in such dubious practices today, even though a school/academy will be given under 24 hours’ notice of an inspection.    What is sad is not only that in some cases excluded pupils miss out on learning, but also that they have considerable potential to learn based on the talents they have (as seen from this incident), if only  schools and academies press the right buttons.

II          The Timpson Review

On 7 May 2019, Edward Timpson, former children’s minister, published his review on the exclusions of pupils.  It made 30 recommendations all of which were accepted by the Government.

Timpson’s review included good and bad news. The good news was that 85% of mainstream schools/academies had not expelled any pupils in the academic year 2016/17. The bad news was that in each of 0.2% institutions that had expelled pupils more than 10 pupils had been excluded in that academic year.  Vulnerable pupils were more likely to be excluded. Altogether, 78% of permanent exclusions were of children who had special needs or classified as being eligible for free school meals.

Fewer Bangladeshi and Indian pupils were excluded than White British, Black Caribbean and mixed White and Caribbean ones.

In October 2017, former Prime Minister, Theresa May appointed Edward Timpson to carry out a review on the exclusions of pupils in schools and academies in response to the Race Disparity Audit. Edward Timpson was asked  to lead the review in March 2018.  He set out to explore how schools use exclusion.

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Number of young people not in education, employment and training rises

25 Aug

In June 2013 it became a statutory requirement for young people to remain in education and/or training up to the age of 17.  The education/employment-training compulsory age was raised (again) in the summer of 2015 to 18.   However, the law does not make arrangements for any one particular body to police the system leave alone take sanctions against the young people to flout the law.

It is, therefore, unsurprising that there is a substantial number of 16-18-year-olds not in education, employment and training (NEETs).  The number of NEETs, in fact, rose in England from 6.8% in 2014 to 7.1% in 2015.   However, the number of 16-year-olds remaining in education rose.

In the years leading up to 2008, the year of “financial bust” the percentage of NEETs fell but from 2008 to the current year it has risen.

It is anticipated that with the economy becoming increasingly buoyant and government supporting employers who hire apprentices, the picture of young people in education and/or employment will improve over the coming years.

Meanwhile, a senior Cabinet Office source informed The Times that the government will be announcing plans to require all 18-to-21-year-olds to attend 71 hours of training classes at Job Centres in the first three weeks of claiming out-of-work benefits.   The scheme will begin in April 2017,

The training will include practising job applications and interview techniques. Those attending will undertake extensive job searches alongside dedicated coaches with whom they will continue to work throughout the first six months of unemployment.

Pupil Absence

25 Aug

Granting leave of absence to pupils has become a chestnut for many Headteachers.  Firstly, there is confusion on what they may or may not permit especially in the light of the strident direction that the former secretary of state, Michael Gove, gave about headteachers not being allowed to grant up to 10 days’ absence a year during term time for any except compelling reasons.

The headteacher can authorise absence only after taking account of the nature of the event for which leave is sought, the frequency of such requests, whether the parents give advance notice, the pupil’s attainment, and attendance record and ability to catch up on the missed schooling. Where leave of absence is granted, the Headteacher determines the number of days the pupil can be away from school.  Given that it is possible for pupils to engage in distance learning through the managed learning environment (MLE), administering the system should not cause that much grief either to families or for the schools.

However, schools also have to take account of what the Ofsted watchdog is likely to do when their inspectors visits.  Mindful of attaining an outstanding grade they are (not unnaturally) loathe having their pupil attendance statistics marred by pupils (legitimately) taking exceptional time off.

Sadly, there have been a number of horror stories recently that have been grabbing the media headlines.     Continue reading