Nonsuch Primary School Excluded ‘Up To 30 Disabled Children’ Last Year In ‘Rush’ To Become Academy
Same Difference has been aware for some time that academies do not easily accept disabled children. Our editor passionately supports inclusive education, so we strongly oppose academies.
We were unpleasantly surprised by the recent calls for all schools to become academies.
However, we have never heard a story like this before. This story has shocked us and made us fear even more for the future of inclusive education.
A primary school that excluded ‘up to thirty disabled children’ ‘in a rush to become an academy’ has rejected education chiefs’ calls to rescind some of the expulsions.
Nonsuch Primary School in Woodgate Valley, Birmingham, has been accused of ‘bullying, intimidation, secrecy and dishonesty’ after children as young as four were kicked out.
There were 193 pupils at the school in a 2012 Osted inspection, meaning a staggering one in seven pupils were excluded in 12 months.
Tory councillor John Lines has claimed the ‘unusually high’ exclusion rate was part of a ploy to improve behaviour figures in a ‘rush to become an academy’.
Nonsuch Primary School in Woodgate Valley, Birmingham, has been accused of ‘bullying, intimidation, secrecy and dishonesty’ after children as young as four were kicked out. There were 193 pupils at the school in a 2012 Osted inspection, meaning a staggering one in seven pupils were excluded in 12 months
He also likened the situation to the Trojan Horse controversy, an alleged plot by hardline Muslims to Islamise schools in Birmingham.
Speaking today, the councillor who represents Bartley Green ward, said: ‘To become an academy one needs to ensure the records of the school and behaviour are at a reasonable standard.
‘So in the rush to become an academy it seems they excluded 30 pupils in around 12 months to get that status.’
Nonsuch Primary School became an academy at the start of the year, and the trust that now runs the school launched its own independent inquiry into the spate of expulsions.
But Mr Lines has demanded more action, having written to the Department of Education about the scandal calling for action over the ‘appalling reports of discrimination of our very young, vulnerable citizens, some of whom are still without formal schooling’.
He has also held two public meetings in Birmingham where he said: ‘The mood was anger and frustration coupled with the usual concerns.’
He added: ‘When I originally wrote to the Department of Education, they said 30 pupils in 12 months was unusually high. But now they are going back on that.
‘Their attitude seems to be complete denial, which is disgraceful. The headmistress, Jo Walkley, has been on “sick leave” for months.
Tory councillor John Lines (pictured) has claimed the ‘unusually high’ exclusion rate was part of a ploy to improve behavior figures in a ‘rush to become an academy’
‘Most of the children who have been excluded are disabled, it really is sickening.
‘I am giving my support to parents and misrepresented children and I will continue to do that. No one will stop me doing that.
‘There is someone, somewhere accountable for this appalling behaviour.
‘There has been a large number of people that have said nothing and watched from the sidelines as parents and children have been subjected to this appalling behaviour.
‘The powers that be, those who should be responsible, have just turned a blind eye. These difficulties have taken place while Nonsuch was under the authority of the council.
‘It appears to me the dash for academy status may be a serious concern, although I support the academy process. The dash towards academy status was made with undue haste.
‘I have called for an investigation into the school. We need to probe what is going on for the sake of other children. The only failing I can see is the school’s, not the children’s.
‘Frankly, I find it hard to understand how a child of four and five can be so unruly, so uncontrollable, that they merit exclusion.’
In February, an independent review found that nine-year-old pupil Josh Long, who was permanently excluded in October last year, should have his expulsion rescinded.
But astonishingly the school has rejected this finding and barred Josh, who is believed to have Tourette’s, from coming back to school.
A report following the February meeting states: ‘The panel agrees that, on the evidence available to them, the governing committee was wrong to conclude the headteacher had exhausted all possible alternative means of supporting Joshua.
‘The panel members decided that the governing committee was wrong to draw their own inference from Joshua’s early school reports.
‘The panel decided it would be appropriate to recommend that the discipline committee of Nonsuch School reconsider the decision not to reinstate Joshua.’
However, following a meeting of Nonsuch governors and trust members last month, Josh’s mother Louise was informed the ban stands.
The letter states: ‘After full consideration, the governors decided to uphold the decision by the school to permanently exclude Josh for persistent disruptive behaviour.’
Louise, 28, said: ‘It is outrageous. I believe Josh has been victimised. He is a boy and boys will be boys.
‘If you don’t talk to a child with respect, you are not going to get it back. I don’t think it has been done fairly at all. It is organised chaos.’
She denies her son is overly disruptive, but admits he is a youngster with some issues. He is currently being assessed for possible Tourette Syndrome.
Another pupil, Mason Dunbar, 10, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was kicked out of Nonsuch Primary School on November 19 last year for ‘defiance’.
The exclusion was rescinded following an appeal in January and the youngster – who suffers from behavioural issues including Attention Deficit Hyperactive and Oppositional Defiance Disorder – is now back at school.
But his father, Tony, 41, said: ‘The school just cannot deal with disabled children, so they get rid of them.
‘I think they were hoping they could hide their record if they became an academy.
‘It’s like when a business goes bankrupt and gets a new name, they can erase their past. That’s what they’re trying to do now.
‘Mason’s now getting the care he needs, but they really had no idea. It took months fighting to allow him to have the right carers in.
‘They didn’t know what he was entitled to, or what forms they had to fill in, it’s shocking.’
A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: ‘We take these claims very seriously and are working closely with Nonsuch Primary School, its academy trust and the Regional Schools Commissioner, to review the inclusion processes and procedures for all pupils.
‘The academy trust which runs Nonsuch Primary School has launched an independent inquiry into exclusions at the school.’