Schools paid to take expelled pupils
CASH handouts of £2,000 are being paid to Essex schools in return for taking on expelled pupils, the EADT can reveal.Essex County Council, which has called the payments "dowries", strenuously denies the one-off sums are sweeteners to entice headteachers into admitting excluded children.
CASH handouts of £2,000 are being paid to Essex schools in return for taking on expelled pupils, the EADT can reveal.
Essex County Council, which has called the payments "dowries", strenuously denies the one-off sums are sweeteners to entice headteachers into admitting excluded children.
However, the handouts have been compared to 'carrots' and 'incentives' by one council member.
And the term "dowry" was last night branded "unfortunate" by Jerry Glazier, NUT secretary for Essex and member of the NUT's national executive.
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Mr Glazier, who works in an excluded pupil referral unit, believed there was an element of encouragement behind the payments adding: "Some schools see taking on an excluded pupil as a potential problem for them.
"I can understand why they think that, but these children are re-integrated into mainstream schools after they have responded positively to treatment.
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"These payments are a mechanism with re-integration and support in mind. It would be difficult for a local authority to force a pupil on a school."
About 180 children each year are permanently excluded from school in Essex - potentially resulting in dowry payments amounting to about £360,000 a year.
But last night the county council said it was unable to state how many children were currently excluded from school.
A spokesman for the county council also denied the payments were "sweeteners" for headteachers to take on expelled pupils.
He added: "It is not possible to give a realistic or sensible figure for the number of pupils currently excluded from school, since the figure would change on virtually a day to day basis.
"We have a rigorous procedure for collating statistics relating to truancy, however these statistics can only be prepared after the conclusion of each school year.
"It is also not realistic to expect the council to conjecture as to the average length of time between exclusion from one school and admission to another.
"The Department for Education and Skills advises authorities to make every effort to find a new school for an excluded pupil within one academic term of exclusion.
"We aim to comply with that advice unless there is a specific set of circumstances which would make that progression impossible."
Paul Kirkman, leader of the Labour group at Essex County Council was last night unavailable for comment.
However, councillor Paul Sztumpf, the group's former leader, said it "simply did not ring true" that up-to-date exclusion figures and the average wait excluded pupils face between schools were not available.
He said he was "very surprised" that the most recent figures available were more than a year out of date.
He added: "These payments resemble an incentive, like a carrot on a stick. Placing excluded pupils is a problem and it is a growing problem.
"The education authority does have powers to force schools to take on pupils, but has always been reluctant to use these powers because these children might end up caught in the middle."
Dr Ian Gale, speaking for the Liberal Democrat group, said the dowry payments made sense but added: "I am amazed and surprised by this lack of information as it used to be regularly made available. As councillors we get very frustrated with similar instances in which we are consistently denied information due to the cabinet system."