Managed Moves in Bristol Secondary Schools

  • Managed Moves in Bristol secondary schools and the number of moves from each


Pinning down data to give an accurate insight into factors and barriers affecting the ability of pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (Send) to attend school is difficult. This is because there is no one data set giving a full picture of what’s going on and why. Instead, it’s case of looking at many different sets of data alongside the reports of family experience with the Send system.

Often, family experience and hard data does not even tally, because it relies on those entering the data to do so honestly and accurately as well as having inclusion strategies in education settings which are transparent and lawful.

A Bristol Alternative Learning Provision Review took place in October – November 2020, commissioned by Bristol City Council and published as a report. The report made 31 recommendations of improvement for Alternative Learning Provision (ALP) in Bristol. All 31 recommendations were accepted by Bristol City Council and a plan was published in March 2022.

The original ALP report looked at issues with managed moves. It found that pupils moving schools through managed moves or negotiated transfers without support had a ‘poor’ chance of success at their new setting.

The report found: ‘Settings reported a lack of graduated response and behavioural support in some mainstream schools, which then can lead to an inappropriate placement. There are pupils moving schools via ‘managed moves’ or ‘negotiated transfers’, those without support stand less chance of success at a new setting. Undiagnosed educational needs, especially speech and language problems, were all given as reasons for poor outcomes.’

The report also stated that the majority of Fixed Term Exclusions (FTE) were by secondary schools, with most schools using a ‘Ready to Learn’ or ‘Behaviour for Learning’ behaviour policy. The programmes were found to generate ‘high’ numbers of FTEs, but whilst the policies are supposed to allow flexibility and take into account equalities and disability, it was found that this ‘does not always seem to be the case’.

This is relevant to managed moves because evidence was also found showing that children ‘often’ had ‘multiple exclusions, managed moves, poor attendance and limited engagement in learning, extra familial harm, abuse, criminal exploitation and youth violence.’

Managed moves are a way for Local Authorities (LA) to move pupils between schools without a formal exclusion. Each LA will have their own method, which varies on a local basis. They also benefit schools in that moving pupils through this method does not reflect on their exclusions data – although there is still no way to capture the rates of unlawful exclusion or the full picture on off rolling.

In Bristol, Behaviour Inclusion Panels (BIP) were established to handle managed moves. The Panel manages revolving door placements into Pupil Referral Units (PRU) and places in ALP schools.

The report says: ‘The LA should take a stance on Managed Moves and Negotiated Transfers as part of a strategy on inclusion. The decision to move a child into ALP via managed move is even less transparent nationally than official exclusion as it is only recorded locally, and is unlikely to face any effective challenge from parents because it purports to have taken place with their consent. It’s important to note that the parents waive their right to the exclusion appeal system by agreeing to the referral to the Panel (BIP). It is also worth noting that some managed move are monitored via the BIP and others are negotiated moves between schools which do not involve the LA. There are clear records of the former but no capacity or means the monitor the latter.

‘The line between a managed move by parental consent and an illegal exclusion by coercion is difficult to distinguish due to a paucity of case law. The net result is that we are in the dark about the volume and appropriateness of managed moves, including those into AP. Partial data systems and incomplete regulation mean that complete information on this cannot be extracted from administrative data. It is reported anecdotally nationally that on occasions parents are allegedly coerced with the threat of permanent exclusion if they did not sign a managed move agreement, but nobody knows how common this is precisely because it is likely to be illegal but is not effectively regulated. The success of these moves is caged by the stability of the new placement and if the pupil does not reappear within the system.’

The number of managed moves from Bristol secondary schools between 2016 and Term 4 of 2021 is in the table below. An asterisk indicates there were less than 5 pupils.

What the data does not show is that there are many ways of removing pupils from a school roll, some lawfully, others less so.

The Alternative Learning Plan (ALP) Improvement Plan, March 2022 states that by September 2022, ‘Paperwork and graduated response from schools should be evidenced prior to any Bristol Inclusion Panel referral’ with the LA working with schools to ‘reduce the need for ALP’.

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