A brand-new strategy that takes a multi-agency approach to promoting inclusion and preventing exclusion from the city’s schools was recently discussed at a meeting of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee.
The draft strategy has been produced in close partnership with schools, colleges, nurseries and others – including police and health services – to ensure that schools are supported by all partners to be inclusive places for all pupils, and that fewer young people are excluded from them.
It is the culmination of a year-long consultation which revealed that all those consulted shared the same determination to work together to ensure that exclusions from school are only ever used as the very last resort.
The strategy is set against a backdrop nationally of a marked rise over the last five years in school exclusions that has also been seen in Manchester schools.
It has been developed to help early years’ settings, schools, post 16 providers, the council, and others to work more closely with each other to support children and young people in school and to reduce the risk of exclusion.
It provides an outline of different approaches, interventions and services to support education providers to ensure all children’s needs are identified early, understood, and effectively addressed in order to support good attendance and prevent exclusion.
The strategy identifies examples of current good practice already in place, as well as highlighting further actions that need to be taken to support the inclusion of all children to help them thrive.
It recognises that activity to promote inclusion and reduce exclusion must be embedded in all work with children, young people, and their families.
Perhaps most importantly it concludes that promoting inclusion and preventing exclusion is everyone’s business and needs a robust multi-agency approach.
Councillor Garry Bridges, Executive Member for Children and Schools, Manchester City Council, said: “We know that a child excluded from school has their life chances permanently worsened and that they become instantly more vulnerable. We also know that children who have faced challenges in their lives or have experienced trauma or poverty are more likely to be excluded.
“It’s imperative that we change this if we want all our children and young people to achieve their full potential.
“We can’t pretend it’s going to be easy to do this or that there are quick fixes that will sort this out. We’re determined however to do what we can as quickly as we can, with partners, to turn this round and help improve the lives of young people – who at the moment are finding themselves excluded from school often due to circumstances in the past that were beyond their control.”
Manchester’s new inclusion strategy is expected to be finalised over the next couple of months and to be in place in time for the start of the new school year in September.
It has been developed alongside the national review of exclusions led by Edward Timpson Secretary of State for Education and published in May this year.