Revealed: The 10 schools in Norfolk with the most permanent exclusions
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant
Ten schools in Norfolk accounted for more than a third of all permanent exclusions made in the county last year.
Of the 266 permanent exclusions in the county in the 2016/17 school year, 34pc - 91 - were made by 10 of the county's 424 schools.
The figures, revealed under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from Norfolk County Council, show that City Academy Norwich excluded the most, with 26 permanent exclusions made during the year.
They also show a particular problem in Great Yarmouth, with Great Yarmouth High School, Cliff Park Ormiston Academy in Gorleston, Caister Academy and Lynn Grove Academy in Gorleston all in the 10.
It comes as the council reveals plans to launch a new service, virtual school and help line focusing on vulnerable children, to support headteachers on the brink of exclusion.
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Chris Snudden, assistant director for children's services, said: 'We know this is a problem and the figures are higher than we would like.
'But we don't want there to be an image that Norfolk is not inclusive - the vast majority of schools in Norfolk do not exclude. That's not to say there isn't room to improve, but it is contained to a smaller proportion that it may appear.'
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Permanent exclusions have become a key issue in Norfolk in recent years, with the number rising disproportionately high - but Ms Snudden said, last year, only 24pc of schools excluded a pupil.
The other 175 of the 266 were made by those in the 24pc, but the council said it could not provide names of schools which had excluded five or fewer pupils.
The FOI also revealed the majority of exclusion - 188 - were made at secondaries, with 71 made at primaries. The primary figure has jumped from 39 in 2014/15.
Figures earlier this year showed Norfolk excluded more children aged under 11 than almost anywhere else in the country.
Bringing down permanent exclusions has been identified as a priority in a £6m government opportunity areas scheme for Norwich. The city is one of six areas with high deprivation the government is focusing on.
One headteacher working on the county's coast said schools faced mounting pressure on all sides.
'You know other children are being affected, but you know that excluding that pupil gives them no guarantee for the future,' they said. 'Equally, you don't have the support to look after them, but know no-one else does.
'I've excluded before because I've not known what else to do, and while there was a certain amount of relief, it's a really difficult decision. These figures are too high - but heads are sometimes in impossible situations.'
A spokesperson for the Norfolk Primary Headteachers' Association (NPHA) and Norfolk Secondary Education Leaders (NSEL) said: 'School leaders are working at the heart of our communities and are always trying to find solutions to very complex issues.
'We've been working with the council and other partners to try to reduce the number of permanent exclusions, while continuing to support staff, families and learners because we firmly believe in an education system that cares for all and includes everyone. Every child and young person must have the opportunity to learn and be the best they can be. Permanent exclusion is always the last resort.'
Case study: City Academy Norwich
Of CAN's 26 exclusions, 19 were made in the autumn term, five in the spring term and two in the summer.
Acting principal Debbie Edwards admitted it had become a 'major issue' and said they started to reevaluate their approach, with certain approaches proving successful.
She said early intervention had been key, with teachers working with primaries to identify pupils who may be challenging, as well as attending year six reviews of pupils with education, health and care plans.
They arranged immediate meetings with pupils given warnings, upped teacher training and put more of a focus on children's home situations and mental health. They created a stuck cases forum, to focus on challenging cases, allowed for more flexibility for children needing extra support and worked with charity Ormiston Families.
Particular praise went to the Mancroft Advice Project, which visits the school twice a week, runs after-school activities, organises family mediation and direct counselling. She said their help was 'incredible' and they were 'very valued' at the school.
'We absolutely don't have all the answers and it is an ongoing issue,' she said. 'But we knew it was not good enough, that we needed to do something and it's certainly been a focus.'
What is the council planning to do?
• Launch a Vulnerable Groups Achievement and Access Service within its children's services team.
It will focus on pupils who have been excluded, have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and have English as an additional language, among others.
It will by headed up by Mark Adams, who is already at the county council and has 23 years as a headteacher behind him.
• Create a new Virtual School for SEND.
• Recruit challenge partners from schools to work on exclusions.
• A designated duty desk to give headteachers considering exclusion extra support and information on alternatives.
• A four-tier system, shaped by schools, with other options.
• It will also continue with a new charging structure, which sees all the funding associated with a pupil removed from the excluding school.