Improved support helps more children stay in school

Wakefield Council, working in partnership with the district’s headteachers, has reduced the number of permanent school exclusions across the district by almost 60% in the last two years.

This is part of the Council’s aims to ensure that every Wakefield child and young person has access to the best possible education to meet their academic, social, and emotional needs.   

The Inclusion Project was set up in 2019 in response to high rates of permanent exclusions, with a new panel system launched to support pupils with behavioural issues.

Thanks to the approach, permanent exclusions have fallen from 96 in 2018/19 to 39 in 2020/21 – representing a 59.38% decrease in two years. Plus numbers are continuing to fall despite the additional asks and pressures schools have been under with COVID.

Margaret Isherwood smiling
Cllr Margaret Isherwood

Cllr Margaret Isherwood, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “It is very positive to see that our new approach is having such a positive impact for pupils, families, and schools.

“It is vitally important that all children and young people in our district have opportunities to thrive and grow, to achieve their dreams, and ambitions, by having access to a good education.”

The Council has set up three secondary inclusion panels and a single panel for primary that each meet regularly.

The panel includes professionals such as leaders from each of the schools, as well as colleagues from the Council, working in social care, youth, and family support.

The purpose of the panels is to allow professionals to share their knowledge and expertise to find the best education solution for a young person at risk of permanent exclusion, or who has been permanently excluded.

Schools provide a range of support for any young person before they are considered by a panel, and exclusion from a school is now a very last resort.

Since its visit by Ofsted in 2018, Wakefield has been working to improve the quality of its services to support children and young people in the district, who may be in need of help and protection, with successful partnership working through Wakefield Families Together a key element as it continues its improvement journey. The progress made against permanent exclusions has been highlighted alongside other improvements in Ofsted’s most recent published letter following their focused visit, with inspectors noting: “…newly established inclusion panels, linked to the Wakefield Families Together locality-based cluster model, with its emphasis on early intervention, have helped to achieve a significant reduction in the number of permanent exclusions.”