Pledge to halt school exclusion rates

Published Monday, 13th March 2017
kids, learning, school, class, books,
Children learning

Plans to build specialist therapeutic units at schools across Rotherham in a bid to slow down exclusion rates have been given the go ahead at a meeting today.

Permanent exclusion rates in particular within the secondary sector have been rising drastically in recent years in Rotherham, almost trebling between 2012 and 2016.

This has slowed in the last year following partnership work with Rotherham Council, schools and mental health services after links were made between exclusions and social, emotional and mental health issues.

Cabinet has today (Monday, March 13) agreed that up to £180k of funds are earmarked to help schools to improve their buildings for the provision of services for Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND).

This is part of the £500k funding agreed by Cabinet last year to improve the provision of services for children with SEND across the borough.

The money, which will be distributed evenly by the local Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) Partnership, will be ploughed into specialist centres at a number of primary and secondary schools to help deal with issues before they get as far as exclusions.

Not only will this help the pupils and families concerned, but it is also an invest to save scheme as the council predicts it will cut into the thousands of pounds currently being paid for children to be hosted at units outside the borough.

Cllr Gordon Watson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services at Rotherham Council said: “It is often the case that children with social, emotional and mental health issues also exhibit poor behaviour patterns. But we need to be forward thinking and look at what the causes are of these issues and how we can help treat these children within therapeutic settings so they can integrate back into mainstream education.

“By excluding them we are simply not fulfilling our duty of care to allow all children access to the same education in their locality. That is why we are recommending this money is spent creating pupil friendly spaces to aid a more nurturing approach to this issue.

“There are few options within Rotherham for young people who find engagement challenging, that school leaders often report feeling exclusion is the only response they can make. Our proposal will give schools other options so that needs can be met on a more proportionate remit, without having to resort to exclusion.”

A number of head teachers are planning to adapt existing buildings on their school sites to create “nurture spaces” and therapeutic spaces to allow young people to access support. The plan is this will allow their needs to be met earlier, so reducing the need for higher levels of support from local services or provision outside of the local authority.

This latest programme of work complements work last year to move the town’s Aspire Pupil Referral Unit site from Catcliffe Primary School to more appropriate provision in Eastwood as part of the wider plans to deal with exclusions.