County Council to consider new plan for reducing school exclusions

North Yorkshire’s schools and the county council have worked together to finalise a new model for Alternative Provision which schools can use at the earliest stage to support children at risk of exclusion and keep them as part of the school community.

Cllr Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Education and Skills

The county council’s executive has been asked to approve new plans at its meeting next week in which schools will continue to oversee progress and engagement of young people who need to access alternative provision.

The county’s plans will provide 162 full time equivalent places at Key Stage 3 and 4 which can be accessed in the pupil referral service and other venues by schools, without the need for permanent exclusion.

“This new plan creates a more preventative and inclusive mainstream culture and more localised provision,” said Cllr Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Education and Skills. “Our primary concern is to reduce school exclusions and keep young people as close to their local communities as possible.

“Evidence shows that children and young people who are permanently excluded suffer in terms of educational outcomes, and life chances. So wherever possible we believe they should remain within mainstream education, in their local school with the right support and curriculum to meet their needs.

“Over several years, permanent exclusions have risen significantly in North Yorkshire to above the national average, despite our investment in the pupil referral service of over £4.7m each year. So we need to change the system to make sure we support children who need a more personalised programme of learning.

“So our schools, the county council and the pupil referral services have been working hard together over the last few months to agree a new model of provision which is more flexible to meet the needs of children and young people locally.”

This personalised programme will take place in the pupil referral service, in school and in the community. It will also provide high levels of pastoral and learning support and therapeutic interventions provided by speech and language, educational psychologists and occupational therapists. It will also include a core academic timetable in English, maths and science alongside a broad curriculum with physical and outdoor education and community projects. 

Funding for a full time place in the new alternative provision will be based on an £18,000 contribution from the county council and £5,000 from schools, which taken together is above the national average.

The council will provide the total funding to the pupil referral service to ensure budget stability but will recharge schools for their contribution which amounts to £26.32 per day.

These arrangements represent a £2.59m investment by the county council with an additional £771,000 for school-led Locality Boards which will encourage a more inclusive approach.

Cllr Mulligan stated: “We believe these new plans will have a positive impact and mean that schools can maintain young people on their roll, ensure they remain part of the school community, even if the young people are not physically in school five days per week. 

"This will allow young people to retain relationships with teachers and peers and participate in events in school.”

The new model of provision has been agreed in principle in all areas of the county although final arrangements are still to be made in Harrogate depending on decisions on sponsorship of the Grove pupil referral service.

Cllr Mulligan stated: “We now urge all stakeholders in Harrogate to agree a model for the area as a matter of priority so that, like the rest of the county, they are ready to deliver this model in the best interests of young people from September 2020.”

This story was published 17 September 2019