Rural school too remote to swap

7th September 2007 at 01:00
At isolated Withernsea High School, finding another secondary to swap pupils excluded more than five days was never an option, William Stewart writes. Its nearest neighbour is an impractical 16 miles up the rural East Riding coastline.

For Cynthia Chapman, assistant head in charge of inclusion (above), it was always a poor solution anyway.

"Even if the money had been there for taxis, our philosophy was that moving pupils to another school where nobody knows them doesn't necessarily address the problem."

Instead it will share the top floor of a house at the bottom of its drive (pictured) with its six feeder primaries. Any pupils they exclude for six days or more will spend a minimum of three days there. A plan will be worked out for their reintegration into school and they will receive basic skills lessons and careers advice and sessions with an educational psychologist. The scheme was first worked out when it was expected that the six day rule would be based on accumulated exclusions over the year.

Now that it is just according to the length of single exclusions, Mrs Chapman predicts the facility will rarely serve its primary purpose. That will actually make it less predictable and harder to staff when it is needed.

But she is hoping to integrate the house into Withernsea High's existing schemes that aim to turn round troubled pupils before they get to the point of exclusion. These include sports coaching, an on-site isolation room and an alternative vocational curriculum.

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