Plan to tackle 'high number of pupil exclusions' across Doncaster schools

Doncaster Council is hoping to turn the tide on the number of exclusions across town schools
Doncaster Council is hoping to turn the tide on the number of exclusions across town schools

Doncaster has ‘high numbers’ of children being excluded from school and ‘high rates’ of persistent absence.

A report seen by cabinet members on Doncaster Council outlines a ‘three stage plan’ to reduce exclusions and boost school attendance.

Over 30 per cent of all pupils were excluded in Doncaster during 2015/2016, according to Ofsted figures - equivalent to 5,588 children being given one or more fixed period exclusions.

Doncaster is set to receive £6m in funding over the next three years to improve the life chances of children and young people.

The cash will aim to address challenges such as quality of teaching, absence and variable outcomes for disadvantaged children.

Council bosses were keen to stress the town compared ‘no better or worse’ than other local authorities in South Yorkshire.

A report compiled by education bosses at Doncaster Council shows recently, there has been a ‘sharp rise’ in the number of permanent exclusions and a ‘growing demand’ for pupil places in settings away from mainstream provision.

A ‘behaviour review’ concluded there is ‘insufficient provision’ in Doncaster to meet the needs of young people with acute social, emotional and mental health needs including those with Autism. The report stated these factors have led to poor attendance and low educational achievement in many cases.

The scheme is said to be complementing an ongoing ‘attendance strategy’.

In a bid to improve attendance rates, local authority bosses have created audits and action plans in over 50 schools.

Education chiefs believe this scheme will reduce children skipping school over the next 18 months.

Damian Allen, Director of People (DCS/DASS), said: “We will continue to work with all stakeholders to reduce the unacceptably high levels of fixed term exclusions in some of our secondary academies. It is important to note that our young people are no better or worse behaved than children in other areas.

“As a council, we constantly challenge levels of fixed term exclusions in our secondary academies. We see fixed term exclusion as a last resort when all other sanctions have failed although we recognise that there are rare occasions when a fixed term exclusion is warranted.

“We are currently consulting on a wide ranging strategic review of behaviour and have recently launched a new attendance strategy to encourage higher attendance rates particularly in our secondary academies.

"Doncaster is now designated as a Social Mobility Opportunity Area with the main goal being to improve outcomes for our disadvantaged children and young people. A key focus is to improve attendance and prevent exclusions so they get the best possible education and improved life chances.”