The Local Schools Network has, under the Freedom of Information Act, obtained exclusion figures for each academy in the UK. To see the full list, based on figures for 2008/09, download them here
. Comparing these to overall exclusion figures for England (available from the DfE here
), reveals far higher figures for academies.
On average non-academy state secondary schools permanently exclude 1.7 students out of every 1,000 each year. However academies exclude 3.1 out of every 1,000 – representing 82% more students. Some exclude far more. New Line Learning Academy in Kent permanently excluded 25 students in 2008/09. Other academies with high levels of permanent exclusion included Grace Academy in Solihull with 14, Harris Academy in Croydon with 15 and St Matthew Academy in Lewisham with 13.
Some might argue that the higher rates are because academies were set up by labour in tougher, more deprived areas. And the overall DfE statistics do reveal that schools in more deprived areas do exclude more students. But the 10% most deprived only exclude 23% more than the average – far below the 82% higher figure for academies.
A similar pattern is clear for fixed term exclusions. The number of fixed term exclusions in academies is equivalent to 14.2% of students, compared to 9.23% in non-academy state secondaries. This is 53% more. Again some academies show very high figures: New Line Academy again tops the league, with a figure equivalent to 68% of students, but it is closely followed by Academy 360 in Sunderland on 65% and Merchants Academy in Bristol on 61%.
It is unclear why exclusion rates are so high but it is likely to be because, outside of local authority regulation, it is simply easier to get rid of troublesome students. In non-academy secondaries 25% of appeals against exclusions were upheld. No equivalent figures are available for academies but it seems likely that there is far less protection against exclusion decisions.
The government, of course, has made clear that it wants to make it easier to exclude students, but it has not revealed how it will help and support the students that are thus cast out. Some of the most successful comprehensive schools in the country manage to permanently exclude no students at all and, in the year for which these figures are taken, that even included Gove’s favourite academy – Mossbourne. Permanent exclusion should not be seen as a mark of success of school discipline but of a failure to meet a student’s needs and has no apparent correlation to school success.