Harris Academy St John’s Wood: School defends exclusion numbers

Harris Academy St John's Wood. Picture: Google

Harris Academy St John's Wood. Picture: Google - Credit: Archant

A school which had more than half the exclusions in Westminster in latest published figures says its new leadership has turned around the situation.

In the latest publicly available figures, Harris Academy permanently excluded 16 pupils in 2017/2018. This was more than half of the 30 banned from schools in Westminster as a whole.

There is also a concern that some schools are "off-rolling" difficult pupils in a move to affect exam results and league tables. This is when schools don't officially exclude pupils but they are removed from school.

According to the statistics, seen by this newspaper, the most common reason for exclusion was "persistent disruptive behaviour." Assault, and drugs were also factors in them being stopped from going to school.

Yet a spokesperson from the school in Marlborough Hill, said the school was in a period of change after the academy trust had taken over the running of the former Quinton Kynaston school. It only permanently excluded three pupils last year, and has not excluded any this year.

They added that exclusions are "a last resort" but school bosses decided that behaviour needed "drastic improvement."

An Ofsted report in January 2017 found behaviour was poor and bullying was "not dealt with consistently and taken seriously by all staff." A spokesperson said: "Exclusions are below the national average, but this data is from the first year Harris Academy St John's Wood was open. It had just replaced Quinton Kynaston school, which Ofsted placed in special measures partly because it deemed behaviour to be 'inadequate'. Since that turnaround year, the behaviour of students has been transformed and exclusions are a fraction of what they were."

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A recent report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime said that better support for excluded pupils could halt the rise in knife-crime in the UK.

The school said it continues to work with pupils after they have been permanently excluded and attend a pupil referral unit (PRU), pooled with neighbours Kensington and Chelsea.