14,000 secondary pupils being expelled yearly

Click to follow
The Independent Online
More than 14,000 pupils are being expelled from secondary schools each year, according to the results of a survey by the Independent. The figures, which show an almost five-fold increase in five years, are much worse than had been suspected.

The findings will put pressure on education ministers, who have commissioned their own study, to take action to curb the problem. Children thrown out of school lose, on average, three-quarters of a year's education and police say many become involved in crime.

Previous estimates put the total permanent exclusions at around 10,000 a year in both primary and secondary schools. Temporary exclusions of up to 15 days a term are now believed to be running at more than 100,000 a year.

The Independent's survey of 36 local education authorities - one third of the total - suggests that 11,000 pupils were ordered to leave state secondary schools permanently in 1993-94.

Among the 31 local authorities which provided information for the first two terms of this year there were 2,718 permanent exclusions from secondary schools. If that is repeated across the country and if it continues at the same rate until the end of the summer term, there will have been 14,200 cases in this academic year.

The phenomenon has been causing concern since 1990, when the total permanent exclusions were estimated by schools' inspectors to be 2,900. By 1992- 93 there were 6,660, according to the survey.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the problem was exacerbated by a deterioration in pupil behaviour, by a lack of parental co-operation and by a rule change which abolished indefinite exclusions. Jill Forbes, head of Lynch Hill Combined School in Slough, Berkshire, said she had been forced to exclude a boy permanently this year because he needed extra support and the 15-day limit on temporary exclusions did not allow enough time to get it.

"I believe exclusions can be positive. They can bring the parents face to face with the reality of what their children are doing. It can change their attitudes and their children's attitudes, and can make you work together," she said.

Education, pages 12-13