Most primary school exclusions for assault

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The Independent Online

More than 1,000 four-year-olds have been excluded from school in a year, official figures revealed yesterday.

The most common reason for permanent exclusion of a primary school pupil from school was for physically assaulting an adult – usually a teacher or a classroom assistant. In 200 of the 720 cases last year, this was the reason.

However, the figures prompted claims that headteachers were often too "trigger-happy" to exclude – reaching for the ultimate sanction rather than trying to control a pupil's behaviour within the school.

Headteachers' leaders argue, however, that more and more children are presenting themselves at school or nursery without the social skills to communicate with fellow classmates. This is often because, they say, they have been left by parents to fend for themselves in front of computers or televisions in their early years.

Overall, the number of exclusions for 2008/09 has shown a decrease – with permanent exclusions down 19.4 per cent to 6,550. Fixed-term exclusions also fell from 324,180 to 307,840. However, statisticians said they felt the number of exclusions may have been under-reported.

An ethnic breakdown revealed Gypsy and Roma children were most likely to be excluded from school. Not a single Chinese pupil was excluded. In nearly 16,000 cases, the exclusion was for an assault on an adult.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said: "Despite the fall in exclusions, poor behaviour remains a significant problem in our schools."