The City of Wolverhampton Council shares a firm a commitment, alongside schools, to promoting inclusion and preventing the exclusion of the children and young people in the city.
The National Context has highlighted a number of priorities through the Timpson Review of Exclusions. This includes making schools more accountable for the outcomes of permanently excluded pupils, embedding effective partnership working and extending the support for Alternative Provision (AP).
Too many children and young people in the UK; and subsequently Wolverhampton are excluded from school. Accompanying this, the number of children being educated at home in Wolverhampton has nearly trebled over the last five years. In Wolverhampton, the West Midlands and nationally, there are increased concerns about youth violence, child exploitation and gangs. Disengagement and exclusion from education has been linked to these growing issues.
In Wolverhampton children identified as having special educational needs are more likely to be excluded, and pupils who are eligible for free school meals. This is similar to the national statistics and needs to be addressed.
The main reason for exclusions in Wolverhampton is persistent disruptive behaviour, however there is an increasing number of exclusions due to one-off incidents involving a weapon, drugs or serious assaults on staff and pupils. In the majority of cases there is information that could lead to early intervention and therefore prevention of the exclusion. The Inclusion Team will work closely with schools to increase understanding of the issues that lead to exclusion.
The City of Wolverhampton has a Culture of Belonging programme, which aims to address the disparities and inequalities and ensure all pupils have a sense of belonging that will enable them to achieve their full potential.
The Inclusion Team has a strategic priority to ensure all children and young people are in a suitable and aspirational educational provision and to support schools in reducing barriers to learning that result in fixed and permanent exclusions.
The team entails a manager, two Senior Inclusion Officers and four Inclusion Support Officers. There is also a Counselling and Behaviour Support Officer.
The team will work directly with schools, pupils and other stakeholders such as attendance, social care, SEND, and school improvement. The team will promote the voice of the children/young people and their families; working to raise aspiration and engagement.
The aim is to support schools in a variety of ways to enable them to more effectively support their pupils that display behaviour that challenges, with a view to delivering an inclusive approach to learning. Our work focuses on maintaining children and young people’s positive engagement with school.
They will encourage a philosophy of inclusive practice in schools by asking the questions: - What is working well? What could explain this behaviour? What else can we do? Have we done EVERYTHING we can?
Trauma informed practice and an awareness of Adverse Childhood Experiences and Attachment issues will underpin the support offered to schools and pupils. All the team are trained and have specialist understanding of the many causes that may lead to negative behaviour choices and can offer suggestions to schools and pupils to address these issues.
The team will be all be trained as THRIVE licenced practitioners. Thrive® promotes children’s and young people’s positive mental health by helping adults know how to be and what to do in response to their differing and sometimes distressed behaviour.
Other agencies such as the West Midlands Violence Reduction unit, Catch 22, Wolverhampton 360, YOT, CAMHS and the police will all be integral to supporting and enhancing the work of the Inclusion Team.
The fundamental approach is based in restorative principles, which means that we endeavour to work with those we support rather than directing them in their actions, working collaboratively in a solution focussed approach.
- Share good practice for the management of behaviour in schools
- Offer training and support for staff to identify and support pupils with SEMH/SEND and unmet Attachment and Trauma needs.
- Liaise with multi-agencies and other support organisations to ensure a cohesive approach for pupils who are disengaged.
- Promote and advise on Outreach and other LA Services.
- Take referrals directly from schools to support pupils using a holistic approach.
- Share information from National and Local Guidance and reviews, ensuring statutory responsibilities are upheld.
- Promote and inform on ‘Getting it Right’, strategies.
- Embed a restorative approach in meetings with pupils regarding exclusion to seek effective solutions.
- Review and issue all guidance regarding Fixed Term and Permanent Exclusions in line with the DFE review.
- Offer a bespoke and flexible service to all Wolverhampton schools regarding Inclusive practice.
- Disseminate the advice and guidance into schools offering direct support if necessary.
- Facilitate/support/attend a Team Around the Child (TAC) meeting with multi-agency professionals to offer a range of suggestions/ alternatives to avoid the exclusion.
- Liaise with Schools admissions to ensure all long-term provisions for pupils meet the pupils individual needs.
- Work directly with pupils who have experienced a Fixed Term Exclusion using a toolkit of resources and approaches.
- Offer a range of suggestions for preventative placement for pupils who are disengaged or who have received one or more FTE in an Alternative Provision.
- Liaise with SENDStart and other Local Authority departments to ensure placements are reviewed regularly and pupils make progress, in line with their individual needs.
- Offer advice and information regarding options in Alternative Provision and make suggestions for meeting pupils individual needs.
- Strengthen links to ensure Early Help Assessments are used as a tool to structure support for the child/young person and family.
- Intensive support for pupils who are at high risk of immediate Permanent Exclusion.
- High level of Support for pupil’s transition between schools and alternative provision settings different settings.
- Implement the day 6 provision for all pupils who have received a Permanent Exclusion. Ensure all information is provided by the excluding school to ensure the best chance of success.
- Attend all Independent Review Meetings to provide appropriate challenge to ensure all statutory responsibilities have been met.
- Represent the service on the Wolverhampton Inclusion Support and Alternative Provision panel, Primary/Secondary – held every four/two weeks.
- Attend all review meetings for pupils attending interim provision and ensure there is a solution focussed approach that is meeting the pupils needs and that any statutory assessment is being progressed.
- Hold review conferences for pupils who have complex and difficult needs and are hard to place.
We would like to encourage all schools to contact the Inclusion Team, at the earliest possibility, when pupils are presenting with difficulties that may, at some point in the future, lead to a permanent exclusion.
The In 2019/20 the Inclusion Team attended 75 meetings to discuss and plan for pupils who were at risk of permanent exclusion. Out of the 75 only 5 resulted in a future permanent exclusion.
It is important to recognise that permanent exclusion may be the only choice in some circumstances, but we would like to work collaboratively with schools to seek alternatives whenever appropriate, to give all pupil’s the best chance of success in the future, and to become self-reliant and confident adults in society.