To consider the report of the Corporate
Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Education which was presented to provide opportunity for Members to scrutinise internal exclusion data for Blaenau Gwent in both the primary and secondary school sectors for the academic year 2020-21, as well as the regional exclusion data for the academic year 2019-20.
The Head of School Improvement and Inclusion spoke to the report and highlighted the main points contained therein.
In relation to professional development meetings the Chair enquired if it would be beneficial to engage with the Chair and Vice of School Governors. He also enquired regarding exclusions in relation to Children Looked After. The Officer confirmed that Chairs of Governors were invited to professional development meetings.
With regard to the data for exclusions for Children Looked After, the Senior Education Welfare Officer explained that recording of this information had begun in the summer term on a regional level via the EAS and would provide Members with this information in due course.
In response to a Member’s question regarding clarification on unofficial exclusions being unlawful, the Head of School Improvement and Inclusion clarified that the Welsh Government guidance on exclusions was clear that only a Headteacher could undertake an exclusion, either through a fixed term exclusion or a permanent exclusion. Headteachers could not, for example, send a pupil home to calm down, this would be viewed as an unofficial exclusion and would be unlawful.
A Member enquired if there was a standard procedure across all schools for exclusions. The Head of School Improvement and Inclusion advised that there was one approach across all schools in the County Borough.
Regarding paragraph 6.1.12 of the report - Number of Exclusions by Reason, a Member enquired regarding the ‘other’ category. The Senior Education Welfare Officer said there was no official definition and would look into this categorisation.
With regard to the sharing of good practice, the Head of School Improvement and Inclusion said that part of the recovery and renewal working group with Headteachers was around well-being and sharing ideas on how to support those young people who had been adversely impacted by having significant periods of time off school. She gave an example of a school who had set up a nurture group, the idea was that young people accessed that provision and when they felt ready would gradually be reintroduced into mainstream classes. She advised that this had impacted very positively on the exclusion rates in the school.
A Member felt that the number of children was comparatively low when compared to the number of exclusion days and the main point was how to work with those young people causing the most disruption. The Head of School Improvement and Inclusion agreed that they were relatively small numbers of young people who were extremely vulnerable and needed significant support from schools. A number of schools had undertaken trauma informed schools training and this was key to supporting those young people before they reach crisis point and was essential that early interventions be put in place to avoid exclusion behaviour being exhibited.
A Member referred to paragraph 5.1.1 of the report - the Council is required by the Education Act 1996 to ensure that pupils who have been permanently excluded are in receipt of an appropriate education after fifteen days. The Head of School Improvement and Inclusion said in those circumstances tuition would be provided for those young people as a temporary measure while different schools were explored to accommodate the pupil.
The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and endorse Option 2; namely that the report be accepted as provided.