Academies exclude twice as many students

Henry Stewart's picture
A year ago we published a post showing that, in the academic year 2008/09, academies excluded 82% more students than state secondary schools as a whole. Following a Freedom of Information request we have now received the 2009/10 figures, showing that the gap has increased. Secondary academies excluded over twice as many as state secondaries as a whole.

The level of exclusions in academies stayed constant, at 3.1 per 1,000 students. However the level in secondaries overall fell from 1.7 per 1,000 students to 1.5. There is a similar gap in fixed term exclusions. Secondary schools overall had 85.9 fixed term exclusions per 1,000 students. Academies had 151 fixed term exclusions per 1,000 students, 76% more.

Rates varied considerably. Some academies, even among those with more than 2,000 students, had no permanent exclusions. However one with just 575 students had no less than 17 permanent exclusions in the period.

As last year, we have examined whether an explanation could be that academies tend to be in more deprived areas and schools in deprived areas have more exclusions. However even the 10% most deprived schools (and less than a third of academies are in this category) had a permanent exclusion rate that was only 26% above the average. So this does not explain the fact that academies had twice as many permanent exclusions.

The boroughs that have no exclusions

In contrast to the academy approach, there are 17 local authorities in England that had zero permanent exclusions in 2008/09, the latest year for which I can find figures.  It is interesting to ask how these local authorities achieve this. As the report notes, "The advantages of managing provision in a non-exclusionary way are massive in terms of reduced conflict and better outcomes at no net cost."

I know a little bit about one of these, Waltham Forest, as it is a neighbouring borough to Hackney. I understand that it is a very deliberate policy. Schools work together, through Fair Access Panels, to manage the moves of challenging students. It means, effectively, that if your school wants to move on a child having difficulties and at risk of exclusion then you in turn take a similar child from another school. This is far less damaging and ensures no student falls through the cracks and ends up out of education.

This is an example of how schools can work together for the benefit of the community, co-ordinated by the local authority. It is not impossible for this to happen with academies (there is one academy in Waltham Forest and it does indeed also have no permanent exclusions) but it does require all schools to see themselves as having a common interest. And it does stress the important role the local authority can play in co-ordinating this common interest in the benefit of all young people.

Data Notes:

The spread-sheet on academy exclusions in 2009/10, provided under FOI, is available here: exclusions academies dfe 2010. The DfE figures for schools as a whole are available here. (Table 14 gives overall academy figures, Table 15 gives overall secondary figures. Table 14 gives a slightly different figure, 0.30, to the detailed sheet - 0.31 - but seems to use rounded rather than exact numbers.)















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