School’s Not For Me

Yesterday I watched a 30 minute programme on iplayer called Schools Not For Me. As the programme page explains some children just don’t fit into school life – so where do they go to learn?

I am trying to understand how the funding works.

Schools Not For me is part of How Wales Works for the BBC which has news and features about aspects of the Welsh education system. The programme was first shown on February 1 2016 and is available until the end of the month.

I’ve taken elements from the transcript here

Liam, a former student who narrated the programme said “they tell me money and education is tight, so what’s the future for kids like me? Who will have us?”

Liam said that the Caerphilly centre was “part of an organisation called GrEW Wales which run centres like this for kids like me who have been excluded from classrooms. My school pays for my placement here. I’ve been coming here for two years.”

Students tended to say that they had been “kicked out” of school. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they have been excluded. They may still be on roll at a school. Young Wales runs schemes for “pupils who have been excluded or are at risk of exclusion”

Some students attended full time while others attended for a few days a week. It was not clear whether the students who attended full time had been permanently excluded. If they had been permanently excluded, my understanding is that the local authority would have had a responsibility to arrange and fund the provision, but the narrator Liam said he had been attending full time, that the school paid, and that he had been coming for two years.

Some students attended part-time over several school years.

The role of the local authority was not addressed at all.

Students and staff talked about the school paying for the placement and about young people being sent to the centre by the school.


The head tutor Levi explained that changes at GrEW meant that centres across South Wales would have to close due to falling student numbers. “We simply couldn’t afford to keep all the centres open. It’s the same story throughout secondary schools, is they simply haven’t got the funding or the money to be able to pay for a provision like ours, even though there is a demand for it.”

The maths tutor in the programme said “what we find is the most effective is if you are on a one-to-one but obviously we can’t do that with limited resources”

The programme said that Susan’s school was sending her for three days a week in the academic year 2014-15 and also continued this for 2015-16 at the new super-centre. This indicates that Susan is still on roll at school (and possibly that the school transfers 3/5 of the school funding to the centre.)

The programme also said that Shanice and her friend Annabell were sent to the Caerphilly centre by their school. They seem to be attending full-time. Are they still on roll at their school? They said “us two got kicked out.” But Annabell also said “they came up the other day, the teachers from our school, and they were like, “Annabell, if you get kicked out “you’re not coming back to school,” and stuff like that.”

We were also told that Annabell’s school would decide her future at the centre, indicating that she was still on roll. Annabell was subsequently excluded from the centre and her school refused to have her back. She was then apparently taught by a community tutor although we are not told how many hours a week. We are not told whether the school or the council was paying for the tutor.

It was reported that 15-year-old Tiegan had completely missed Year 10 of school, although this was not explored further. Again we don’t know whether she is on roll at her school. Tiegan seems to be attending the centre full time but says she wants to go back into school “even if it’s just once a week, once every two weeks” although she also says she has been “kicked out of school.”

If the young person remains on the school roll, does the school have to cover the actual cost of a place at the centre, or just hand over the school funding for however many days a week the young person is attending?

Are young people being directed off-site under s.29?

The Exclusion rules for Wales are here (April 2015)

  • Managed move NOT EXCLUSION

  • Directing off-site under s.29 NOT EXCLUSION

  • Fixed period exclusion

  • Permanent exclusion

Schools can arrange a managed move to another school with knowledge and cooperation of parents and LA.

Schools can direct the learner to attend educational provision elsewhere for the purpose of receiving instruction or training under section 29(3) of the Education Act 2002 which “should not be continued for longer than is absolutely necessary” [1.11.2 and 1.11.3]

“Any such arrangements do not amount to an exclusion from school on disciplinary grounds and should be kept under periodic review involving the parents/carers. Where there is sufficient evidence to enable a headteacher to consider exercise of the power to exclude, the Welsh Government would expect the headteacher to consider exercising that power, rather than the power in section 29(3), or authorising leave of absence. It is important that in the exceptional circumstances where the section 29(3) power or authorised leave of absence is used, the headteacher’s actions and arrangements are documented to remove any possibility of this being construed as an unlawful exclusion.” “The more time that passes the more likely it is that the exclusion will be regarded as an improper exercise of the power. The section 29(3) power should not be used to direct learners off-site for educational provision/training to improve their behaviour. [1.11.4]

Fixed Period Exclusion Over 15 Days. LAs and schools are expected to work together to put full time appropriate provision in place. [1.8.5 and 1.8.6] LAs should ensure that all learners receive full-time education 15 days after being excluded, either at another school or, where necessary, making use of a PRU or other alternative provision. [6.2.1] ’Full-time‘ means that the amount of supervised education should mirror that provided by mainstream schools in the area. LAs must make arrangements to provide a broad and balanced curriculum. [6.2.4]

Permanent Exclusion. Once the learner is removed from roll, the LA is responsible for ensuring that suitable education is made available. In cases where the school from which the learner has been excluded is maintained by a different LA, this will be the home LA. [6.6.1] For a small number of learners approaching the end of compulsory schooling it may be unrealistic to expect them to make a successful return to school. In these circumstances the LA should, through the PSP [Pastoral Support Programme], arrange a programme of study and experience designed to lead to further education, training or employment. [6.9.2] Where a learner is permanently excluded from a maintained school, that school’s budget share for that year will be reduced by the amount required in the School Funding (Wales) Regulations 2010. [7.1.2]

3 thoughts on “School’s Not For Me

  1. Fiona Nicholson Post author

    It looks like it suited schools to keep pupils at the centre indefinitely. There doesn’t seem to have been any monitoring and the places weren’t adequately funded. Exclusion numbers are thus kept down, and the local authority doesn’t have to pay for provision.


    1. Steph126

      This appears to be the case in a number of local authorities and is more or less a way of manipulating exclusion figures. In reality, behaviour is becoming increasingly challenging but the focus on results is becoming increasingly demanding. One size does not fit all and I for one believe alternative education works for many. It just needs to be respected and treated as a professional solution to an ever growing problem as opposed to a dumping ground.



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