Huge rise in children expelled from Norfolk schools

The Locksley School, part of The Short Stay School for Norfolk. Photo : Steve Adams

The Locksley School, part of The Short Stay School for Norfolk. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

A surge in children being expelled from Norfolk's schools has left the system in 'crisis', the man who has to pick up the pieces has warned.

Des Reynolds, executive head teacher the Short Stay School for Norfolk. Picture: SUBMITTED

Des Reynolds, executive head teacher the Short Stay School for Norfolk. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

The number of pupils permanently excluded rose by almost 50pc in 2015-16 – from 195 to 284 –with another 50 already expelled just seven weeks into the new school year.

The sharp increase has forced the Short Stay School for Norfolk (SSSfN), which educates children expelled from mainstream schools, to only take in new children on a 'one in, one out' basis, leaving an estimated 17 receiving no formal education.

Norfolk County Council, which has a duty to find them places, said it was 'in discussions with other providers who may have capacity'.

Des Reynolds, executive head of the SSSfN, said it had only had to turn away children because it had reached capacity twice before – both times in the summer term – and warned the number of children it had to reject could rise to 100 by the summer.

He said: 'The school has been open since 2011 and it's never been anything like this bad. It's an entirely different order of problem.

'Ultimately, the only solution is for fewer schools to be permanently excluding. The answer to that has to be how we provide education in our mainstream schools that better suit the needs of some of our more challenging students.'

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He blamed national factors, such as a greater emphasis on behaviour, and local factors, such as pressure on heads to improve their schools' results.

A council spokesman said: 'Over the last 12 months, the number of permanent exclusions that schools in Norfolk have been making has increased sharply. As it is the responsibility of the local authority to find new places for these pupils, this rise has had a knock-on effect on provision, as pupils cannot always be transferred to other mainstream schools.

'We are very concerned about the high level of exclusions from Norfolk schools and are striving to resolve this complex issue. Our senior managers are working closely with headteacher associations and the SSSfN.'

She said it had reassured families needing a school place that it was working hard to find a solution.

Is your child without a school place after being expelled? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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