Managed Moves Issues Raised by Bristol Secondary School

The concerns regarding Managed Moves in Bristol were uncovered in meeting minutes

A Bristol secondary school has raised issues in an internal meeting about the Managed Moves process in Bristol. The set up between schools is currently impacting on pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (Send). There are also indications there is a push-back from Bristol City Council to ensure Send pupils have support plans in place and evidence of support ahead of school moves.

The meeting minutes also highlight a lack of Key Stage 3 Alternative Provision places in Bristol. They also say that schools taking on Managed Moves pupils are failing pupils on the placement for things that would be less of a concern from their other enrolled pupils. And, that there appears to be an annoyance that after 12 weeks of placement, schools are unable to off roll the pupils again.

Managed Moves is the name used by Bristol City Council for the process of moving a pupil between schools but without formal exclusions. Behaviour Inclusion Panels operate in Bristol to deal specifically with Managed Moves. The process is supposed to benefit the pupil because they will not have an exclusion on their school record. But it also benefits schools because moving a pupil in this process will not be captured in their exclusions data.

In an independent review into Alternative Learning Provision (ALP) in November 2020 concerns were raised with Managed Moves. 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.

This is echoed in the meeting minutes of Bristol secondary Cotham School. The minutes of the school’s Learning and Wellbeing Committee, which took place on 15 March this year and were brought to our attention, state concerns about the threshold increasing for using Managed Moves for pupils.

They say: ‘Over the years, we have seen the threshold for bringing a student to the panel increase – schools were expected to take action between themselves before coming to the panel. There has been a city-wide alternative provision review which has identified a lack of alternative provision and a belief that students are failing managed moves. Many of these students may have SEND issues, which are often not identified, but they are taken to the panel.

Worringly, Cotham school also says that pupils appear to be deliberately failed on their Managed Moves by the new school. It also appears that pupils with Send are disproportionately impacted by this. All Send pupils brought to the panel are expected to have a support plan as well as proof of support – suggesting Send pupils are still not getting the support they need or even an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) prior to moves or exclusions.

They say: ‘Some schools are failing students on negotiated transfers for quite minor issues – issues for which they would not exclude their own students. The panel is now pushing back against this. There is now a greater emphasis on using the panel only as an alternative to permanent exclusion. There is a pre-panel surgery where cases can be discussed to ascertain whether they can be taken to the panel. And SEND students brought to panel are expected to have a support plan and
evidence of the work that has been done to support them.

Continuing: ‘Can no longer extend a managed move after the 12 weeks – the expectation is that if the student has made it to 12 weeks, that they should be taken on roll.’

The person at the meeting discussing the school’s exclusion data was questioned: ‘Is this likely to impact other schools more than Cotham?’

With the reply: ‘Where it is impacting Cotham is with a small number of students with a high level of behaviour issues and believe there is underlying SEND issue, but parents have refused to accept that there is an underlying issue. Must have tried 2 managed moves before bringing to panel and must have provided support to SEND children. The other alternative is to pay for the child to be in alternative provision. There are barely any KS3 alternative provision places and parents must agree to this. The LA simply say that it is the school’s responsibility and the school must work with parents to understand the underlying needs. The plans are almost creating a provision within the school. Getting an EHCP can take almost two years currently.’

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