Concerns over increasing number of young people excluded from Liverpool schools

Permanent exclusions across Liverpool schools are on the rise, with pupils with educational health care plans removed as leaders fear they cannot meet their needs.

New data released by Liverpool Council has detailed how in the last full school term between 2022-23, the number of young people being excluded from schools across the city rose amid a “sharp increase” of national expulsions post covid-19. Figures indicated how 162 young people were removed from education settings last year.

This has included an increasing number of children with educational health care plans (EHCP) or with special educational needs (SEN).

A report to the city’s education, skills and employment scrutiny committee, to be discussed next week, said a “large proportion” of permanent exclusions were from multi-academy trusts that have taken over previously inadequate schools. It said: “The local authority does routinely challenge permanent exclusions but is unable to overturn as this is a decision for the governing body.”

Documents to be debated by councillors indicated young people with EHCP or SEN being permanently excluded rose by the end of the 2023 summer term. It said: “Similarly, more children with EHCPs have been placed in mainstream settings and schools have permanently excluded children with additional needs that they believe they are unable to meet.”

In a bid to reduce the number of young people being removed from education, the local authority is seeking to continue to challenge permanent exclusions with schools and academies, as well as “escalating the concerns regarding disproportionate permanent exclusion rates.” The report indicated Liverpool Council could also review with secondary schools if they want to re-introduce the delegated budget for the local authority to deliver any pre-exclusion offer.

The council analysis said persistent absence rates had also “worsened slightly” in the last quarter of data, in a position worse than the national averages. It said: “Persistent absence is now the subject of significant intervention and focus nationally. 

“However, special schools’ persistent absence rates have improved but still worse than national averages and the target.”

In October last year, it was revealed how the equivalent of more than 4,000 school days were missed by pupils at Merseyside’s worst offending site for truancy last year.

According to Department for Education attendance figures, students at Dixons Croxteth Academy had an unauthorised absence rate of 14% through the autumn and spring terms during school year 2022-23. 

This was higher than any other primary or secondary school across the whole of Merseyside.

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