Medway and Kent school exclusion rates revealed

by Lynn Cox

More children are excluded from schools in Medway than anywhere else in the South East.

Government figures which were published this week, show schools in Medway are amongst the worst in the country for excluding pupils.

Statistics for permanent and fixed term exclusions show in 2015 and 2016, 81 children were excluded - 78 of those were excluded from secondary school.

Medway's secondary school exclusion rate is more than twice as large as any other local authority.

Pupil exclusion figures.
Pupil exclusion figures.

Nationally, Medway is joint seventh worst in the country for permanent exclusions and exclusion rates are up 35% on 2014 and 2015 figures.

Elsewhere in Kent, permanent exclusions are down to 58, including 49 from secondary schools.

In addition during 2015 and 2016, there were 3,295 fixed term exclusions in Medway schools, again the highest rate in the south east and ninth in the country, up 12% on the previous year.

The average period of a fixed term exclusion in Medway was 7.4 days, the highest figure in the country.

Independent education adviser Peter Read
Independent education adviser Peter Read

The figures also show a large number of children in Medway, 337, opted for home education, and according to independent education advisor, Peter Read, many of these would have decided to leave school education against the threat of exclusion.

Mr Read added: “In total, this represents a frighteningly high number of Medway children being abandoned by the system, and which will inevitably lead many to troubled lives, and long term cost to society.

"It is clear Medway Council has no idea what to do about the problem. In the past, Medway Council has sought to blame schools and academies completely, washing its hands of responsibility for what is a large social failure being created in the area.

Classroom scene. Picture: Thinkstock Image Library
Classroom scene. Picture: Thinkstock Image Library

“On the other hand Kent, which also had a massive problem with exclusions a few years back, has gone in the other direction thanks primarily to active intervention by the County Council in both maintained schools and academies.

"Government guidance makes clear that ‘permanent exclusion should only be used as a last resort’, and offers advice on the avoidance of exclusion. The data shows that in Medway, the strategy of removing pupils is used far more freely than this.”

Medway Council is responsible for the running of just one of the 17 secondary schools in its area, the rest are run privately academies as are 41 of the 71 primary schools in Medway.

Cllr Andrew Mackness, head of children’s services at the council, said the high exclusion figures for the towns are disappointing.

Cllr Andrew Mackness
Cllr Andrew Mackness

He added: “Exclusion, whether fixed term or permanent, is not a decision which any school takes lightly. Individual schools make their own decisions about fixed term exclusions and these are at the discretion of the head teacher.

“It is disappointing to hear of the high levels of exclusion in Medway. In particular, it must be noted that 88% of exclusions in the 2015 and 2016 academic year were from academies.

“This has long been a priority that I have personally worked on, and I shall continue to hold academies to account in collaboration with the regional schools commissioner, and working with head teachers in Medway.

“We are already challenging exclusion through our SSG board and our work with our inclusions team, and shall continue to do so.”

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