Lincolnshire school hopes to reduce county expulsions to zero

A new free school in Lincolnshire hopes to reduce the number of exclusions in some year groups in the county to zero.

Acorn Free School, due to open to pupils in Lincoln in September, already works with schools nearby.

Figures show there were 144 pupils permanently expelled and almost 3,000 suspended in Lincolnshire in the last academic year.

Jerry Tucker, director of Acorn Behaviour Support Services, said he was confident about his target.

"We are looking to reduce permanent exclusions in key stage three, to zero," said Mr Tucker.

"It is incredibly ambitious but we have a proven track record in this area."

'Real difference'

As a free school, Acorn will be able to offer a less conventional curriculum which it says works better with pupils who are at risk of exclusion.

Mr Tucker said 90% of the school's staff would work with children at their own schools to get them back on track.

The others will be based at the Acorn site where children will attend the centre for short periods, typically six to 12 weeks, before being reintegrated back into the mainstream school system.

"We've got a lot of experience in the field. We feel we can make a real difference to children who may be at risk of exclusion," said Mr Tucker.

"We are passionate about fulfilling their potential."

John Bustin, director of the The Big Society Bubble - a group that works with schools and academies - said he thought school money could be better used.

"My view is that we should do all we can to keep children in the schools they go to," he said.

"Give the money to the head teachers, let them buy in mental health workers, family support workers and support children within the environment they are in," said Mr Bustin.

A Department of Education spokesperson said: "The school will drive up standards and provide greater choice and opportunity for parents and local people.

"We will make a final decision on the proposal in the summer."

Free schools are semi-independent state schools set up and run by parents, teachers and charities.

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