Agenda item

School suspensions and diversity in local school governance

To receive the report of Peter Nathan, Director of Education on school suspensions and diversity in the London Borough of Enfield.


RECEIVED the reports of Peter Nathan, Director of Education and Sujal Zaveri, Governor Services Manager.



An update on suspensions/exclusions and diversity on governing boards, and children and young people from schools in the borough were provided in tandem as they impact each other.


A summary of actions currently undertaken to improve diversity and awareness were Noted.



1. Peter Nathan (Director of Education) and Sujal Zaveri (Governor Services Manager) confirmed that the data showed diversity is improving.


2. Schools have a responsibility to recruit governors themselves


3. Significant effort to effect change and raise awareness has been made. Enfield was the first authority to provide various training sessions to improve diversity on boards and panels which garnered a lot of interest and attendance. Next year there will be four sessions on diversity and race equality.


4. In response to questions on diversity and representation of the community on the Governing board, officers explained that even if a school’s demographic was all white it could have a diverse board to reflect the country's population as children need to understand global ethnicity. Background is also important but it is far better for the governing body to reflect the community as much as possible. Skilled governors are needed. Campaigns around the borough to encourage more people to become governors, targeting specific communities where there is under representation would be ideal but there are financial restraints.


5. Officers confirmed the same applies to religious dynamics, governors are chosen to reflect the differences as well as skill sets.


6. In answer to questions on opportunities for shadowing and mentoring officers highlighted the success of “Walk this Way”. This group did a zoom meeting, in response to complaints received on the lack of diversity, which bought together a panel of black governors from other boroughs who spoke about what is needed to become a governor. Since then, school governors undertook training and Enfield has increased representation in schools. There is always an opportunity to shadow, new governors shadow one committee meeting and one governing board and an experienced governor works with them in their first year.


7. In response to further questions officers confirmed efforts are made to ensure recruitment takes place in religious places and encourage black governors to network in their organisations to encourage others, build a bigger community and spread the word. Leaflets are distributed in libraries and social media utilised.


8. In response to Member suggestions, marketing materials will also be sent to community centres in future.


9. In respect to disadvantaged communities officers currently do work together to make sure their representation is increased, especially in areas where they have the biggest population.


School exclusions


9. Peter Nathan (Director of Education), Mervin Cato (Head of Secondary Support Service) and Ian Hewison (Head of Admissions, Attendance & School Place Planning) said the level of school exclusions is low. The aim is to have no permanent exclusions. Last year, 15 schools in the borough did not exclude at all. Since the pandemic, behaviour reviews of the whole school culture has taken place.


10. Officers stated that the data is, again, problematic as it is always out of date. LBE aims to purchase a live attendance register – software that gives instant notification of attendance marks so officers receive immediate notice of a suspension meaning resources can be linked immediately to the child and support provided.


11. In response to Member questions on how to tackle the race element around exclusions officers stated figures are in fact really good. Previously excluded students would be predominantly black and from faith schools. It is a work in progress, but officers are working with communities and different faiths to lower the rate.


12. Members wanted to know how teachers with stress are being looked after. Officers confirmed that there is an issue around stress, a lot of teachers are moving out of education, as a result there is a push on recruitment including sourcing from abroad. It is now common to have an on-call system in schools which does alleviate some of the stress on teachers. A strong culture and support system is very important.


13. In response to further questions on support in difficult situations. Officers emphasised the importance of Inclusion rooms. They have proven key to preventing the grooming of other students to gangs seen in schools previously. If every effort by the school fails the child with issues will be “managed moved” of which the success rate is 70% Officers stated that nurture groups and providing space for pupils is clearly working, it is about balancing the budget but there is a lot of enthusiasm for expanding the nurture groups and supporting schools.


14. Officers agreed with members comments that there are good relationships but it is still challenging. Since George Floyd there has been a rise in advocates, companies that are supporting parents on the point of permanent exclusion.


15. In response to additional questions on violence in schools and whether the statistics show there has been an improvement, officers confirmed that stats from Ofsted indicate schools are getting better and data from the police in terms of youth violence show Enfield is no longer but is now ranked middle of the tables. Nexus 325 has had a positive impact by providing activities to school children between 3-5pm, serious youth violence has declined in that period.


16. The Chair, Cllr Stevens and Cllr Greer congratulated the officers in terms of exclusions and suspensions as the numbers have dripped substantially since presenting to the board in 2021 



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