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MP criticises ‘shocking crisis’ in rate of Norfolk school exclusions

PUBLISHED: 10:14 10 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:33 10 October 2018

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb has spoken out about the countys rate of pupil exclusion, as data reveals more than 260 students were excluded from Norfolks schools last year.Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb has spoken out about the countys rate of pupil exclusion, as data reveals more than 260 students were excluded from Norfolks schools last year.Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

A Norfolk MP has raised concerns about the county’s rate of pupil exclusion, as data reveals more than 260 students were kicked out of Norfolk’s schools last year.

Stuart Dark, acting chairman of Norfolk County Council's children's services committee. Photo: Norfolk County CouncilStuart Dark, acting chairman of Norfolk County Council's children's services committee. Photo: Norfolk County Council

A Freedom Of Information request by the North Norfolk MP to Norfolk County Council (NCC) revealed that 263 pupils were permanently excluded by schools in the 2017-18 academic year.

The figure is a slight increase from 250 on the previous year (2016-17), but a decrease from 2015-16, when 290 pupils were excluded.

The data also showed 57 students were left in no full time education at the end of the year, a figure Mr Lamb called “shocking”.

The revelation comes as new government figures place Norfolk among the local authorities with the highest rates of permanent exclusion in England.

For the 2016-17 academic year, Norfolk ranked 13th out of 184 local authorities across the country, excluding 0.18pc of its total number of pupils.

Only Bedford has a higher permanent exclusion rate in the East of England.

Mr Lamb said: “These figures are really shocking.

“Not only is Norfolk one of the local authorities most likely to permanently exclude students, but it is failing in its legal duty to provide children with essential education without delay.

“Action is urgently needed to address this crisis within schools, at the county level and nationally.

“Our children’s futures depend on it.”

Stuart Dark, acting chairman of the children’s services committee at the county council, said: “Exclusions remain too high in the county because a small number of schools are excluding high numbers of children.

“We want all children in Norfolk to have access to the very best education, including those with challenging behaviour, who need help, support and understanding.

“Sometimes children’s behaviour is so severe that schools feel they have no choice but to exclude children, and it is only a headteacher that can make this decision.

“We are supporting schools and academies to stop children getting to this point, by helping them to identify children with these issues early on so that they can provide the right support.”

What is Norfolk County Council (NCC) doing about exclusion rates?

In January, NCC created an inclusion helpline for schools, to provide early advice to those needing help.

It has funded a project in a high excluding Norwich school, providing support from the voluntary sector to pupils at risk of exclusion.

The council has appointed two former headteachers as inclusion challenge partners, who will work with schools to identify support available to pupils and develop strategies to keep them at school.

This term letters will be issued to schools with high rates of exclusion, inviting them to meet senior council officers and work to bring exclusion levels down.

The council created extra capacity and all excluded children are receiving support via Lodestar, until a place becomes available at the short stay school or in other provision.

Members of the council’s children’s services committee will meet on Tuesday, October 16, when they will discuss a report on exclusions in Norfolk’s schools.

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