The Children’s Commissioner for England visited Wiltshire this week as part of a national tour of local authorities.

Children’s Commissioner Maggie Atkinson recently wrote a report They Never Give Up On You which recommended a number of ways to improve the system of school exclusions and how services relating to this area could be improved. 

Wiltshire Council is part of a national government pilot project placing the responsibility on secondary schools for children who are in danger of being permanently excluded and is leading the way in supporting schools with its innovative ways of working.

This work will form part of a report for the government. The Commissioner’s visit is part of her separate independent School Exclusions Inquiry which will examine different practice in a variety of localities.

Jane Scott, leader of Wiltshire Council; “It was a real privilege to welcome the Children’s Commissioner and discuss the work we are doing in Wiltshire for children who may find themselves at a difficult stage in their lives.

“We are leading the way in piloting this new project and we were pleased to be able to share our experiences and inform her report to government.” 
Wiltshire Council is one of seven local authorities taking part in the Department for Education pilot scheme, which aims to radically improve long term prospects for those who would be permanently excluded pupils by moving responsibility for the permanent exclusion of 11 to 16 year olds from the local authority to schools.

The pilot scheme has been operating since September 2012. Schools are responsible for helping those in danger of being permanently excluded make good progress and improve the numbers going into further education, training or employment.

At Hardenhuish Academy in Chippenham, pupils who may otherwise have been permanently excluded, attend the Key Centre.

This is a new facility developed by the school to support pupils with a personalised learning curriculum based on the identification of their needs.

The Key Centre is an integral part of the school’s building with youngsters continuing with core subjects of literacy and numeracy but with further opportunities for them to have off-site provision  with a timetable to suit their needs.

As part of her visit, Mrs Atkinson visited Hardenhuish to see the work in progress as well as Springfields Academy in Calne, which has recently gained the TES Schools Award for overall outstanding school of the year.