Agenda item

Inclusive Lincolnshire Strategy - Six Monthly Update

(To receive a report from Mary Meredith, Children's Service Manager – Inclusion, which provides the Committee with a progress report on the Inclusive Lincolnshire Strategy)


Consideration was given to a report from Mary Meredith, Children's Service Manager – Inclusion, which provided the Committee with a progress report on the Inclusive Lincolnshire Strategy.


It was reported that 'The Inclusive Lincolnshire Strategy' had been introduced to address the problem of a rising and unsustainable rate of permanent exclusions from Lincolnshire schools.  Lincolnshire had consistently been the highest excluder of primary aged children nationally and nearly the highest for secondary as detailed to the Committee in previous reports.


The Committee noted that the strategy introduced the notion of a 'Ladder of Intervention'; this had been launched in January 2015/16.  The Committee noted further that in September 2016/17 a step within the Ladder, specialist behaviour support for pupils at risk had gone live through the launch of the Behaviour Outreach Support Service (BOSS).  Now, at the end of the full academic year it was possible to evaluate the impact of the Ladder.


A progress update relating to the reduction of the number of permanent exclusions up to term five was shown on page 14 of the report.  The Committee was advised that the total provisional exclusion figures up to and including term six were:-


·         2014/15 – 210;

·         2015/16 – 155; and

·         2016/17 – 145


It was highlighted that primary exclusions had been a success story, as there had been a 50% reduction; 24 this year compared to 49 in the previous year.  Secondary exclusions however, had not been so successful.  There had been a reduction in the year after the strategy had been launched, but the figures this year were 118, compared to 103 in the previous year.  The Committee noted that feedback received had been encouraging; however, a key priority for 2017/18 was to build on this position, by targeting support and challenge to the small number of vulnerable secondary schools (five in total) that accounted for the disproportionate number of secondary exclusions.


The report provided written positive experiences of the BOSS service from children and young people, it was noted that comments received would help to shape the service going forward.  It was highlighted that young inspectors were currently working with pupils open to the service, gathering their views and opinions.  It was noted that this would provide further independent scrutiny of the service.


It was noted that a key strength of BOSS was its clarity for anyone using the document.  It was noted further that the successful multi-agency working ensured that the service delivered a holistic approach.  An example of the 'Ladder' approach was detailed on page 17 of the report.


It was highlighted that within BOSS there was a universal offer as well as targeted support for pupils 'at risk', as the whole ethos was to increase schools' capacity to meet their diverse range of need.


The Committee noted the Pupil Reintegration Team (PRT) would be introducing an evaluation tool with effect from September 2017, to capture the view of stakeholders, including pupils about their experiences and level of intervention.


In conclusion, the Committee noted that there had been significant progress made in relation to all of the key indicators identified within the Strategy. It was further noted that the priority for 2017/18 would be for work to be carried out with the sector to ensure that secondary exclusions reduced further.


During discussion, the Committee raised the following points:-


·         One member enquired as to what could be done to challenge schools who were high excluders.  Officers explained that culture was not something that could be changed overnight, and that a change in a Head teacher position could sometimes be a catalyst for exclusions.  The Committee noted that Head teachers were in a challenging position, as their success was dependent on results which linked to OFSTED judgement.  It was highlighted that the Council inspection framework could be seen to drive an exclusive culture.  It was important however, that OFSTED inspections framework brought attention to behaviour and exclusions.  It was highlighted further that there was opportunity to financially impact upon schools that excluded; and some members felt that this approach should be revisited.  Officers confirmed that any action needed to have status legally;

·         The need to reinforce more nurturing in schools to stop behavioural response;

·         The role of the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) in the process.  Officers advised that two schools had been referred to the Regional Schools Commissioner and OFSTED, and to date little response had been received, although the improved relationship with RSC was noted;

·         That schools governors should be made aware of the consequences of excluding;

·         One member highlighted that in some instances where a pupil had been permanently excluded, and alternative arrangements had been put in place the pupil had gone on to do very well.  It was highlighted that the problem of the system was that the pupil had to be permanently excluded to access the more vocational courses; and this was something that was being addressed.  Officers advised that the 2018 performance table was changing; and technical awards would now gain points for schools. 

·         Clarification was given that a pupil did not need to be permanently excluded to get on to the Ladder.  It was reported that 'Building a Future' and 'First Steps' would be on offer for the coming year; and that this was a partnership arrangement between the Council and Wellspring Academy Trust.  A suggestion was made for members of the Committee to visit  one of the vocational sites (First Steps at Boston, Bridge House at Gainsborough; and Build a Future at West Ashby) to see the work of vocational learning; and the impact it was having on the young people;

·         A question was asked as to what best practice was elsewhere regarding exclusions.  Officers explained that the availability of an alternative provision might actually stimulate schools to spot purchase.  However, alternative provision would need to have stability of funding.  It was noted that at the moment this could not be achieved, but would be available from September 2017.  Officers also confirmed colleges did not have a 14 - 16 offer.  It was also highlighted that best practice, and the definition of exclusion differed; statistical information provided one opinion, but practice suggested otherwise.  Officers confirmed that Lincolnshire was very transparent in its actions for dealing with exclusions;

·         The Committee noted that schools had benefitted from using the BOSS service. It was  however noted that a Pastoral Support Plan challenged schools to have a plan in place in circumstances when a child was at risk of exclusion;

·         It was highlighted that in the case of Looked After Children (LAC) being excluded, the school would have to notify the Executive Director of Children's Services first.  Officers confirmed that no LAC had been permanently excluded in Lincolnshire recently; and

·         One member enquired as to whether the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) were involved in the early intervention process.  Confirmation was given that if CAMHS were needed to be involved, they would be part of the around the table discussion, or if not the pupil would be involved through BOSS.  Officers advised that there were a significant number of children with emotionally challenging issues, and to help deal with these issues a new Emotional Wellbeing Service had been established, which was being part funded by the Council, and was due to commence in October 2017.




1.    That assurance be received concerning the progress made against the Inclusive Lincolnshire Strategy.


2.    That an update on the progress of the Inclusive Lincolnshire Strategy be received by the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee in six months' time.

Supporting documents:



Original Text: