Gloucestershire County Council has proposed fining schools £5,000 for every pupil they exclude as a new way to combat rising numbers of children falling out of the education system.
The plan, put forward as part of a consultation on education provisions for high-needs children, would also pay schools an additional £5,000 for every excluded pupil they take on.
The payments would be funded by each local school contributing £5,000 to a pool when they permanently exclude, and the plan would require all of them to agree in order to proceed.
The proposal is aimed at bringing down the county’s exclusion rate, which is already higher than the national average and rising.
“We are experiencing difficulty in finding schools willing to accept a child who has been excluded from another school,” the consultation document says.
“These children rarely return to mainstream school and miss out on the opportunity to achieve well. We need to find a way to change this.”
Tackling school exclusions
Gloucestershire was the joint-16th highest authority in England by exclusions in 2015-16, according to a recent local study.
The following year, 141 pupils were excluded permanently and schools in the county had nearly 4,000 exclusions for fixed periods.
More than half of those who have been permanently excluded had special educational needs and disability (SEND), and this number is rising.
A council spokesperson said around 1,000 people had submitted their views to the consultation and a final report would go to the local cabinet in December.
Gloucestershire’s plans come as the government conducts a broader review of exclusions policies, led by former minister Ed Timpson.
Department of Education figures show that the number of permanent exclusions from state schools rose by 15 per cent between 2015-16 and 2016-17, with an average of 40 pupils banned from their school every day.
Among those who have submitted proposals is the National Governance Association, which argued that governor boards for exclusions should be scrapped and replaced with independent tribunals.
In a post on Twitter, the organisation said governor panels for reviewing exclusions were “often not done well” and faced pressure not to contest heads’ decisions, so were not seen as independent.