North East Lincolnshire has UK's highest percentage of students excluded from school, and every one costs taxpayers £20k a year
SCHOOLING for badly behaved children can cost taxpayers more than £20,000 a year for each pupil.
Government figures show that the percentage of students excluded in this area is the highest in the UK – at 0.21 per cent – with fears expressed that academies were excluding challenging children to lift attainment figures.
And it has been revealed that places at referral units such as Phoenix House, which educate excluded secondary-age children – cost North East Lincolnshire Council £20,587 per pupil, every year.
That cost is nearly double the fees that parents pay to send their children to the prestigious Lincoln Minster School, which charges £3,991 per term.
However, some argue that referral units – known as PRUs – are not the answer, which is why the council and Serco, its educational partner, have launched programmes such as the Behaviour and Attendance Collaborative.
Senior teachers from all secondary schools and academies attend weekly sessions to consult on how to deal with poorly behaved students.
Since September, the scheme has had 160 referrals, which resulted in no exclusions at all.
North East Lincolnshire has one of the highest school exclusion rates in the UK, with 69 students permanently excluded during the 2011-12 academic year – which rose from 66 the previous year and just eight in 2009-10.
Jack Blackmore, strategic director for people and communities at NELC, said: "The council was concerned about the number of exclusions, which is one of the reasons Serco is now working with schools, helping them deal with the problem themselves.
"The Behaviour and Attendance Collaborative for secondary schools has successfully addressed the high level of permanent exclusions in the area."
Chris Dixon is a member of the North East Lincolnshire Schools Forum, which makes recommendations to the council on how Special Educational Needs funding is allocated. She is also a governor at John Whitgift Academy, and said that inclusion is always a better option.
"Pupils need to be included, not isolated, and removing them from mainstream education will not improve their behaviour, it will just mark them for life," she said.
"The amount of money it costs is not the issue – it is about doing the best for these children in the long term."
The 60 available PRU places cost NELC £1,235,200 a year. Any academy that excludes a child still receives the funding for that pupil for the rest of the year from central government.
PRUs are funded by a Dedicated Schools Grant to NELC from central government which has been cut by £2.9 million in the next financial year. It funds a total of 150 SEN places in the borough, which covers PRU places for primaries and support for severely disabled students.
But NELC has now allocated each academy a number of places at PRUs– based on the number of deprived pupils – and will charge that school for any places needed above that allocation, which leader Chris Shaw promised to do when news about high exclusion rates was revealed.
Mr Blackmore added: "In the past, some schools had a disproportionate level of usage of these commonly held resources, without having to pay extra.
"What has now been agreed is that each school – academy or maintained – has a notional allocation of places at referral units based on an agreed formula.
"If it exceeds that level then it will be charged for the extra."
NELC's Children and Young Persons Scrutiny Committee has launched a special investigation into the rate of exclusions and is likely to produce a report in January.
Bad behaviour costs!
THE massive cost of dealing with school pupils who will not behave is a complete drain on resources.
In North East Lincolnshire there are a high proportion of young people who, for whatever reason, behave in a manner which simply means they cannot be accommodated in mainstream schooling.
The sheer amount of time it takes for teaching staff to deal with these students would severely disadvantage those who actually want to learn – to say nothing of their disruptive influence.
But what is the answer – or indeed, is there one at all?
Sling them out of mainstream education and do they end up mixing with a whole host of others with similar issues? This scenario is similar to the prison debate that rages – throw a minor offender in with a gang of hardcore jailbirds, and you will end up with another “criminal for life”!
However, leave these children in regular schools and face the consequences!
But, should the state have to spend thousands of pounds on children who misbehave when others, who genuinely want to learn, are faced with spiralling costs and things like university tuition fees – does not seem fair really!