Academy censured over informal exclusions

A CONTROVERSIAL academy has been rapped over the knuckles by Government officials for breaking exclusion rules and informally sending pupils home because of their dress and appearance.

Trinity academy in Doncaster, which is sponsored by Sir Peter Vardy, the Christian fundamentalist car dealer, has been warned against the practice by the Department for Education and Skills following a series of complaints. But this week there were claims that informal exclusions were continuing. Parents and local councillors claim the school is targeting particular pupils in the hope they will go elsewhere.

Doncaster council figures, obtained this week, revealed that between its opening in September 2005 and October 2006, 35 pupils transferred from Trinity.

Last term, a letter to one of the complainants from the DfES, stated:

"Informal exclusions are not compatible with the department's guidance and we have drawn this to the principal's attention."

But Gary Kilgour, father of two pupils at Trinity, claimed the academy tried to informally exclude his 12-year-old daughter Lauren this week for wearing acrylic nails. His 15-year-old son Lee was sent home for his haircut last term.

Martin Williams, a Doncaster councillor, said: "I think Trinity is just putting two fingers up to everybody and saying 'We are a law unto ourselves.' I am not having that. If there are guidelines, they have got to stick by them."

A spokeswoman for the school said that historically the area had a transient school population and transfers had taken place for "all sorts of reasons". No pupil had been deliberately pushed out.

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