CEO: My trust ‘pays the price’ for being inclusive

An academy trust boss has said there is a “price to pay” in performance tables for having low exclusion rates, adding it’s much easier to turn around schools by just “kicking a load of kids out”.

Wayne Norrie, chief executive of the Greenwood Academy Trust, was critical of those turning to off-rolling to boosts their results during a conference speech today.

Norrie said Greenwood tries “not to exclude any pupils” meaning its exclusion rates are “quite low for the sector”, adding: “But there is a price that we pay for that because sometimes our progress 8 isn’t as high as other trusts.”

Greenwood was criticised by Ofsted in 2016 for “letting down pupils over a number of years”. It has also ranked among the lowest of academy trusts for key stage 4 outcomes.

We don’t want to turn our back on our kids

But Norrie, speaking at the National Governance Association’s first MAT Governance Conference, in Birmingham, today, said: “What I can’t do is take schools and communities that have been in trouble for 40 to 50 years and turn them round in four or five minutes without doing one of two things: Riding roughshod over communities or kicking a load of kids out”

“Exclusion and off-rolling are abhorrent and they are really bad things to do and you can call it what you like, home school elective education – where kids are being told to go home and be taught at home.”

Greenwood Academy Trust is the 11th largest academy trusts in the country with 34 academies “located exclusively in areas of social deprivation”.

Norrie added: “I’m accountable for £100m of children’s money, that’s who it goes to, it belongs to the kids and sometimes we forget about that.

“We need to reset the narrative. That’s not my trust money, it’s taxpayers’ money and we are given that to give to these kids.”

Earlier this week, Holte School, a local authority school in Birmingham, was downgraded from ‘outstanding’ after Ofsted found evidence it was off-rolling pupils.

The watchdog also criticised Inspiration Trust’s “flimsy” response after a “steep” rise in pupils leaving one of its schools for home education.

But Norrie pointed to these examples, along with his recent experiences with Ofsted inspections at his trust, as a sign of change in the sector.

“I think Ofsted are now looking much more at this problem”, he added.

At Greenwood, Norrie said they have a system in place whereby the parents of any child put forward for elective home education is contacted by a safeguarding director.

The director, who reports to the CEO, reaches out and asks if the parents were told to make this decision and if it is truly in the child’s best interests.

“For us what we’re passionate about, and we don’t always get this right and we are still getting better, is serving the needs of the children in that community.

“We don’t want to turn our back on our kids.”

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  1. Anne Brown

    Great article, but parents opting for home education being contacted by a safeguarding director really isn’t a good look to promote.

    Can I put it from a non-elective home educator’s perspective?

    The school has failed to provide for my child. I have been to god knows how many meetings without seeing anything change, with LA representatives there because my child has an EHCP (not uncommon in the unwanted/offrolled).

    Now matters have reached a head. I’ve either looked at my child and thought ‘this is destroying you’ or been told that if I don’t remove the unwanted one then they’ll be excluded/sent to a PRU which’ll look bad on their record.

    So I’ve walked away and the right person to contact me is the safeguarding director? Where have they been while my child hasn’t been safe at school? And more to the point, why do they think that the child would want to go back to the same school under these circumstances?

    And what does the safeguarding director do if the school says ‘oh no, it wasn’t like that?’ My bet is that they’ll believe the school over the parent, because particularly with SEND children and young adults it’s ridiculously easy for a school to manufacture incidents. All they have to do is look at their needs and do the opposite and you will have an enormously distressed young person who is disrupting lessons.

    • Mark Watson

      You seem to be missing the entire point here.

      What the CEO seems to be saying is that off-rolling happens across the country – in academies and LA schools. As a multi-academy trust Greenwood Academy Trust don’t want this to happen at their schools. So if children are being removed from schools for home education they want to check if (a) this is the parents’ unilateral decision (which is of course their absolute right to make), or (b) the parent’s have been ‘persuaded’ to do this by a third party, such as the relevant head.

      They’re not trying to change your mind, they just want to know if off-rolling is happening.

      (Just based on this article and the CEO’s quotes – I have no idea what actually happens at GAT or their schools)