A community school in Leeds which has not seen a permanent exclusion for over a decade has been commended by the Education Secretary as one which the sector can learn from.
Inclusivity is a key priority for Carr Manor School, executive principal Simon Flowers has said, with high numbers of children from disadvantaged backgrounds and nearly a third presenting with safeguarding needs.
Now, amidst reviews into educational outcomes and exclusions nationwide, Damian Hinds has spoken of the impact such schools can have on vulnerable children and young people, having visited to meet with staff and students.
“Growing up brings unavoidable challenges, but those faced by our most vulnerable children face are difficult fully to take in – having to overcome the harm caused by abuse and neglect, even to get to school on time or to get enough sleep at night,” he said. “For too many of these children, this can have a real impact on their educational outcomes and they often struggle later in life.”
Tom Shaw, the head of character at Carr Manor, said the school sees a “restorative” approach, with every child part of a mixed-age coaching group, which builds trust, belonging and strong relationships between all pupils and staff. Mr Flowers said the school has not had a permanent exclusion for 13 years, saw less than 10 fixed term exclusions last year, and has no pupils in alternative provision.
“It is a personalised approach that enables every child to flourish rather than force a ‘one size fits all’ strategy that neglects to acknowledge and celebrate the individuals,” he said. “Working restoratively with families ensures that we realise a child’s full potential beyond merely the academic.”
The Education Secretary, commenting on its support networks, said: “We have to set our ambitions high for these children, matched by high support. We can learn a lot from schools like Carr Manor Community School, by all working together – government, councils, schools, police and the health service – to give young people the knowledge, skills and resilience they need to fulfil their potential.”
Mr Hinds’ recent visit to Leeds came as the Department for Education carries out a review of the educational outcomes of children classed as ‘in need’ of help and protection from social care, and as former Children’s Minister Edward Timpson carries out an external review of exclusions.