BMAT works to cut permanent exclusions

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BMAT works to cut permanent exclusions
Posted on: Aug 30th 2019

Children at risk of being permanently excluded from school are being offered a lifeline.

An education trust which prides itself on removing barriers to ensure all children are freed to succeed is setting up alternative provisions for both primary and secondary aged pupils.

BMAT, which operates primary and secondary schools in Essex and east London, is working closely with Essex County Council to fill the gap in the provision of alternative education.

Helena Mills CBE, BMAT CEO, said: “We are trying to stem the number of permanent exclusions in Essex. The provision for children with social, emotional and mental health issues is poor, so we decided to start our own provision in Harlow.

“Our aim is to have zero permanent exclusions from either primary or secondary schools. We are talking about young people who need to learn social and emotional skills. We want to ensure the most vulnerable pupils get the extra support they need. We believe we have a moral duty to help those young people who have reached a crisis point in their lives.

“We have always done everything we can within BMAT to help all of our students. But, there has been nowhere suitable to send those students who require an alternative provision. Essex approached us as a result of our track record of significantly reducing permanent exclusions in our schools and asked us to help.

“It is time someone stepped up and did this.”

Since April, the Trust has been working with secondary students from its own schools - Burnt Mill Academy, Forest Hall School, Epping St John’s Church of England School and BMAT STEM Academy - within its new provision, based at BMAT STEM in Harlow.

Up to 12 students at a time are placed on the 12-week course after being referred by their headteacher, with the aim of them being successfully reintegrated back to their home school.

From September, the Trust will work with the county council to offer Phoenix Provision for primary aged pupils in Uttlesford and Grow Provision for primary aged pupils in Harlow.

To secure one of the small number of places – five at Phoenix, seven at Grow – cases will be heard by a panel of local headteachers who will decide who is accepted.

At all sites, pupils are being offered a reduced academic curriculum to focus on English, maths and science, as well as a programme of interventions, including counselling and work placements to give them aspirations.

Pupils will remain the responsibility of their home school, with collaboration between them and the alternative provision for the good of the young person and their future.

Ms Mills said: “Pupils will get quite personalised attention with almost one to one teaching. The important thing is, pupils will go back to their home school and permanent exclusion will have been avoided.

“I believe we can change behaviour with the right resources. The people we have leading these provisions are very knowledgeable about special educational needs and are very committed to helping the most challenging young people.”

Phoenix will be based at Magna Carta Primary Academy, in Stansted, and overseen by headteacher Marios Solomonides and Grow will be based next to Cooks Spinney Primary Academy, in Harlow, and overseen by headteacher Neil Stirrat.

Both will be fully staffed by teams funded by the county council.

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