Call for probe into running of Birmingham academy after four disabled pupils expelled

Mason with parent Tony Credit: BPM Media

A councillor has called for an investigation after accusing a primary school of expelling four disabled pupils, the youngest of them only four years old.

Birmingham councillor John Lines likened the situation at Nonsuch Primary to the Trojan Horse controversy, an alleged plot by hardline Muslims to Islamise city schools.

The chairman of the school governors, Simon Thomas, has resigned in protest at the way the Woodgate Valley school is being run.

Coun Lines told the Edgbaston District Committee: “This is like a Trojan (Horse) situation and I think that it's pretty serious.”

Nonsuch, which gained academy status in January, recently made headlines after kicking out cerebral palsy sufferer Mason Dunbar for “defiance”.

Following an appeal, the 10-year-old’s exclusion has just been rescinded at a hearing attended by Councillor Lines.

Mr Thomas meanwhile, resigned in December after becoming disillusioned by the way Nonsuch, which recently gained academy status, is being run.

At this week’s meeting, Councillor Lines informed colleagues of a problem involving “disability and discrimination” at Nonsuch.

Nonsuch Primary in Woodgate Valley Credit: BPM Media

I have been approached by four separate families, all of children who have been excluded from one school, Nonsuch Primary in Woodgate Valley.

Birmingham councillor John Lines
Mason suffers from behavioural issues including Attention Deficit Hyperactive and Oppositional Defiance Disorder Credit: BPM Media

Councillor Lines added that he attended Mason’s appeal with parents Tony and Donna, certain that Nonsuch would have to invite the youngster back.

“I didn’t think there was going to be a problem, there was no evidence that would expel a child.”

The crunch meeting was attended by headteacher Jo Walkley and governors.

Mason, who suffers from behavioural issues including Attention Deficit Hyperactive and Oppositional Defiance Disorder, was permanently banned from the school on November 19.

The move followed a number of temporary exclusions.

Nonsuch Primary School, in Woodgate Valley, converted to an academy earlier this month. Credit: BPM Media

His parents, from Woodgate Valley, received news of the U-turn by letter on Monday.

In it, “external professionals” dealing with Mason’s condition were blamed for delays in providing sufficient in-school support for the youngster.

The letter stated “disappointment” about the lack of information received from those professionals.

Donna, Mason's mom, feels strongly the school failed her son and is concerned about his return but is happy he will be reunited with his twin brother Carter in the classroom.

I’m apprehensive about him going back,

Mason's mother Donna
Mason heads for big school in September Credit: BPM Media

The growing storm comes as no surprise to former chairman of governors Simon Thomas, who quit the body in December after 17 years of service.

He has accused the school of keeping him at arm’s length.

Mr Thomas says he decided to walk away after learning of Mason’s expulsion at his local chip shop.

That was the final straw.

Simon Thomas, ormer chairman of governors
“External professionals” dealing with Mason’s condition were blamed for delays in providing sufficient in-school support for the youngster Credit: BPM Media

Nonsuch Primary School, in Woodgate Valley, converted to an academy earlier this month.

It has yet to be inspected as an academy, but was rated as “good” by education watchdog Ofsted when it was last inspected in October 2012.

Academies, originally the brainchild of the Labour Government, were aimed at transforming failing schools, particularly in deprived areas.

Now, all schools have been invited to convert to academy status.

Priority has being given to those deemed by education watchdog Ofsted to be “outstanding” or “performing well”.

Birmingham councillor John Lines Credit: BPM Media

Academies are state-funded schools which receive their funding directly from central government rather than through a local authority.

Although the day-to-day running of the school remains the responsibility of the head teacher or principal, they are overseen by individual charitable bodies called academy trusts and may be part of an academy chain.

They have more freedom than other state schools over their finances and curriculum and do not need to follow national pay and conditions for teachers.

The Government argues that academies drive up standards by putting more power in the hands of head teachers and cutting bureaucracy.

We are satisfied that due process was followed in both the exclusion and subsequent reinstatement of Mason.

Birmingham City Council spokesman