Sunderland school excluded more than half its students in a single year
A senior manager has defended a Sunderland school after it excluded more than half its pupils in a single academic year.
Red House Academy recorded the highest fixed-term exclusion rate in England during 2017-18, with 254 pupils excluded at least once.
Jane Wilson, deputy chief executive of the Northern Education Trust which runs the school, confirmed the figures.
“Two hundred and fifty-four pupils were in receipt of a short term exclusion, which is just over half,” she said.
“There were about 500 pupils in that year.”
Pupils would be given multiple chances to comply with reasonable requests before exclusions were used, she said: “It might be that we ask a child to hand over their mobile phone because they are not allowed to have them out.
“Where children are refusing to do that, we would ask them a number of times. Unfortunately, that sometimes leads to more challenging behaviour.”
Exclusions could be as short as a few hours to allow pupils to rethink their behaviour: “What we would start off with is a half day, because we want them to be out for the minimum period of time,” said Ms Wilson.
“The maximum period is five days, but they are quite rare.
“We aim to minimise the amount of time children are out – we don’t have a policy that we want to exclude children. We do have to exclude children for a short period of time to get them back on track.”
Exclusions were only ever used where it was believed to be in the best interest of the pupil, she added: “Our vision is outcome-focused and child-centred. Every decision we make, we make in the best interests of children.”
The trust says exclusions have reduced this year by more than 70% and students overwhelmingly report feeling safer, learning more than they used to, and having a better chance of succeeding in school then they did before.
It adds that in 2017/18, there were no permanent exclusions in Year 11 at Red House Academy and 41% of the students who received an exclusion in 2018-19 achieved a standard pass in maths and English ,compared to a previous school-wide pass rate of 32%. The whole school pass rate is now 58%, making Red House one of the most improved schools in the country.