Children aged four expelled for lack of social skills

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The Independent Online

Children as young as four are being permanently excluded from nursery schools, official statistics have revealed.

Children as young as four are being permanently excluded from nursery schools, official statistics have revealed.

While the overall number of pupils expelled has decreased by more than a third over the past three years – from 12,700 to 8,300 – the proportion of primary schoolchildren has grown, the Department for Education and Skills revealed in a report yesterday. They account for 15 per cent, compared with 12 per cent in the 1996-97 academic year.

Teachers' leaders warn that a growing number of pupils are arriving for their first day at school without the social skills they need to get by.

David Hart, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "I'm not in the least surprised about the figures. They show primary school heads are having to deal with a growing number of children from dysfunctional families, and it is clearly not reasonable to keep pupils in school who are damaging the education of others."

Nine children aged four – eight of them boys – were expelled from primary or nursery schools last year.

The figures also show that black pupils are three times more likely to be excluded from school than youngsters from other ethnic groups – 46 out of every 10,000 pupils of Caribbean origin were excluded last year. The ethnic group with the lowest exclusion rate – one in every 10,000 – is Chinese.

The figures show the Government has reached its target of reducing exclusion rates by a third by 2002. When the decision was made by David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education at the time, there was an outcry from teachers who claimed pupils would be kept in school even if guilty of serious assaults.

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