Almost 900 expelled from school every day

 

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The Independent Online

Almost 900 pupils are excluded from state schools every day for abusing or assaulting staff or their classmates.

A breakdown of statistics released by the Department for Education revealed that primary school staff were more likely to suffer assaults than those in secondary schools. Headteachers last night blamed parents for failing to prepare their children for starting school.

Tony Draper, a primary school headteacher from Milton Keynes and executive member of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "There are a small minority of families where the children maybe don't have the social skills. They arrive at school and lash out very quickly. because of what goes on in their families."

The figures showed that 7,410 children aged four to 11 were either permanently or temporarily excluded from school for assault last year, compared with 6,390 in secondary schools.

In addition, an age breakdown of the statistics showed more than 4,000 four- or five-year-olds being excluded from school – all but 430 of them boys.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said a survey had shown that two-thirds of teachers believed that a lack of parental support was to blame for discipline problems. Many youngsters were being sent to school not ready to learn, she added.

Nick Gibb, the Schools minister, added: "With thousands of pupils being excluded for persistent disruption and violent or abusive behaviour we remain concerned that weak discipline remains a significant problem in too many of our schools and classrooms."

Ministers are also concerned that many pupils receive a poor education which does not tackle their behaviour problems once they are excluded from school. As a result, they are invited bids from alternative providers – offering them "free school" status if they set up units for excluded youngsters.

The figures, though, do show a fall in the total number of exclusions last year, from 6,550 permanent exclusions to 5,740. Fixed-term exclusions also dropped, from 363,280 to 331,380.

In addition, the number of successful appeals against exclusion where pupils are sent back into the same classroom has been halved from 60 to 30.

Boys are still four times more likely to be excluded than girls – accounting for 78 per cent of permanent exclusions. Irish travellers were the ethnic group most likely to be excluded, with one in 200 being ordered out of the classroom. Second were black Caribbean youngsters, who were four times more likely to be excluded than the population as a whole.

Disadvantaged youngsters eligible for free school meals were also four times more likely to receive a permanent exclusion.

The most common reason for exclusion was persistent disruptive behaviour, which accounted for 29 per cent of all permanent exclusions and 23 per cent of those for a fixed term.

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