'Majority' of children in Blackpool school for excluded pupils are not from resort

Blackpool Council director of people, Delyth Curtis, said the authority is getting better at managing the number of pupils excluded from schools in the resort
Blackpool Council director of people, Delyth Curtis, said the authority is getting better at managing the number of pupils excluded from schools in the resort
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The majority of pupils at a Blackpool school for excluded children is not originally from the town, it has been revealed.

The number of permanent exclusions from schools in the resort has dropped from 60 in 2014-15 to just seven in the academic year to date. But the town's Pupil Referral Unit currently has a roll call of 255 students.

"We've still got a significant number of students at the Pupil Referral Unit, but the majority of those are new to the area," Wendy Casson, Blackpool's head of educational diversity, told a committee of councillors. "That's a massive concern for us, with huge complexities."

Speaking at a meeting of the Resilient Communities Scrutiny Committee, director of people at Blackpool Council, Delyth Curtis, said, "Our schools are managing this much better than they were 18 months ago.

"What we're struggling to manage now are the people who arrive here and a lot of them do end up in [the Pupil Referral Unit]. That's the issue that we're trying to grapple with at the moment."

Numbers attending the Pupil Referral Unit also include those who have previously been home educated.

Blackpool developed a plan to reduce permanent exclusions from schools within its borders earlier this year. The Behaviour and Attendance Partnership was reinstated to intervene before a student is sent to the Pupil Referral Unit.

Councillors were also updated on concerns raised previously about the reintegration of excluded pupils back into mainstream education. During the last academic year, six students were successfully returned to the town's schools.

The number of temporary exclusions from Blackpool schools has also fallen from 1,495 in 2014-15 to 1,221 during 2015-16.

But the committee heard the council was unsuccessful in a bid to the Department for Education's Transformation Fund, which would have provided a social worker for clusters of schools in the town. Ms Curtis told councillors other grants were being used to improve "mental toughness and resilience" in students.