The number of schools rated outstanding has also fallen
Dawn Stabb, head of education and learning at Devon County Council, told the committee that steps have already been taken through the Devon inclusion project to address the significant rise in exclusion figures and that Ofsted are being more rigorous in their grading.
But she added that Level 2 qualifications by those aged 19 with Special Educational Need statements were rising above the national average, up from 18 per cent to 21 per cent, and that 36 care leavers were attending university, a number seven per cent above the national average.
The report said that Devon’s Permanent Exclusions have risen from 0.09 per cent of the pupil population to 0.14 per cent in 2016/17, and that permanent exclusions in Devon primary and secondary schools were slightly higher than nationally, 0.07 per cent in Devon primary schools compared to 0.03 per cent nationally, and 0.22 per cent in Devon secondary schools compared to 0.20 per cent nationally.
Cllr Frank Biederman raised concerns about the exclusion figures having risen, saying that it was disappointing.
Mrs Stabb though said that although the figures for 2016/17 showed 142 children were excluded, that had dropped to 121 in 2017/18, adding: “This year we have stemmed the tide and the numbers are being reduced.”
Cllr Sue Aves questioned the reasons why the overall percentage of Devon Primary, Secondary and Special Schools, judged by Ofsted as Good or Outstanding, has fallen from 92.8 per cent in March 2017 to 86.2 per cent in June 2018.
In response, said the figures were not as good as the national picture but in line with the regional picture. She added that a more rigorous inspection process by Ofsted by taking inspections back in house and changes to the performance measures were the reasons.
But she added: “We have seen a dip in terms of the outcomes but not in terms of the results. We do have to keep the improvement journeys of our school going, and of course, our schools are attempting to do that with a significantly less funding per pupil than those schools in London, and changes to staffing levels and redundancies are having an impact on our schools.”
The committee also heard that 40 years after ‘temporary’ classrooms were built at Tavistock Primary School, Devon County Council is investing £1.3 million to provide state of the art Foundation Stage facilities.
Cllr Debo Sellis, who represents Tavistock, said: “You can imagine how elated I was to hear about this. The money will replace a temporary building that was temporary 40 years ago, and considering the difficult conditions that they have been working under, which really have been awful, they have done fantastically.
“We have recognised the professionalism, drive, determination and strong caring attitude from parents, governors and the staff. This has been a very long haul and I share the excitement. I am delighted.”
The old building will be demolished in January with the project scheduled for completion in time for the new academic year in September.
The new building will be larger than the current temporary huts and will provide four new classrooms and a shared curriculum space.
In a statement issued after the meeting, Tavistock Primary School headteacher Lynette Selbie said: “This new building will help to strengthen and enhance the already excellent teaching and learning for our youngest children.
“The school is very excited about this project and delighted to receive such a large investment from Devon County Council.”
Devon County Council’s Cabinet member for schools, Cllr James McInnes, added: “I’m delighted we have been able to provide these state of the art facilities for our youngest learners.
“Together with the good teaching, these new facilities will enable them to have the best possible start to their school careers.”