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Call to remove council duty to excluded pupils

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An advisor to the Department for Education has suggested removing councils’ legal responsibility to provide an education for pupils permanently excluded from school.

Speaking at the Association of Directors of children’s Services’ annual conference, Charlie Taylor, an expert advisor on behaviour at DfE, said: “I do sometimes wonder about the section 19 duties [under which councils must provide an education for permanently excluded pupils.]

“If the duties were simply placed on schools, I wonder how they might deal with the responsibility. If a school had a written responsibility but also got the funding for children who were permanently excluded, they would get support in earlier for the child.

“They might find a way of keeping the child in school rather than paying for them to go to a pupil referral unit. It would get you away from the moral hazard where people don’t pay for the decisions they make, and are not held responsible.”

Mr Taylor stressed, however, that this was his personal opinion and whilst he had discussed it with the department it was “not by any means government policy.”

He said he had also recommended allowing pupil referral units to become academies. “They say they wish they could do more and build better relationships with schools, and they might be more able to do this as academies,” he said.

Mr Taylor also said he had recommended changes to the system of fining parents for children’s poor school attendance. Rather than issuing a penalty notice, he said, money could be taken from child benefit payments. “It would be a simpler system and it would mean fewer people going to court over fines,” he said.

 

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