Hundreds of pupils suspended daily

Alison Kershaw
Saturday 22 October 2011 22:25

Almost 900 children are suspended from school every day for attacking or verbally abusing their teachers and classmates, new figures show.

The equivalent to 13 pupils were permanently expelled every school day for these reasons.

The statistics, published by the Department for Education, reveal the extent of bad behaviour in England's schools.

In total, schoolchildren were suspended on 166,900 occasions for assault or abuse - the same as 878 pupils a day.

And pupils were expelled on 2,460 occasions, the figures show.

These figures include exclusions for physical assaults against pupils and adults, verbal abuse and threatening behaviour and racist abuse.

The statistics also reveal that large numbers of young children are still being suspended for all types of bad behaviour.

Children aged four and under were suspended from school 1,210 times in total, and were permanently excluded 20 times.

In addition, five-year-olds faced 3,020 suspensions, and 40 expulsions.

Across all of England's primary, secondary and special schools, boys were around four times more likely to be expelled than girls, with boys accounting for 78% of all permanent exclusions.

The suspension rate was also almost three times higher for boys than for girls, with boys accounting for 75% of all temporary exclusions.

Today's figures show that in England's primary schools alone 120 pupils were suspended every day for abuse or assault, while in secondaries, 713 students a day were ordered out of class.

In special schools, 45 pupils a day were suspended for abuse or assault.

Overall, the statistics, for 2009/10, do show a slight drop from the previous year in the numbers of pupils suspended for these reasons.

Schoolchildren were suspended on 80,400 occasions alone for physically assaulting an adult, including teachers, teaching assistants and others in the school, or classmate, the figures show.

There were 82,600 suspensions for verbal abuse or threatening behaviour against a pupil or adult, and 3,900 for racist abuse.

Primary schoolchildren were expelled 270 times for physical violence, and secondary school pupils were expelled on 1,250 occasions.

The most common reason for exclusion was persistent disruptive behaviour, which accounted for almost one in four (23.8%) suspensions and nearly a third (29%) of expulsions.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: "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.

"Tackling poor behaviour and raising academic standards are key priorities for the coalition Government. We will back head teachers in excluding persistently disruptive pupils, which is why we are removing barriers which limit their authority.

"We have already introduced a series measures to put head teachers and teachers back in control of the classroom - including clearer guidance and increased search powers. Through the Education Bill we are introducing further measures to strengthen teacher authority and support schools in maintaining good behaviour."

Sara Gadzik, spokeswoman for the Association for School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: "The figures prove that schools are already tough on discipline and that poor behaviour is not tolerated in classrooms.

"Pupils who disrupt the learning of their classmates are dealt with firmly and in many cases a short suspension is an effective way of nipping bad behaviour in the bud."

Barnardo's chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said: "All children deserve an education and it is unacceptable that in 2009/10 there were almost 590,000 days of school missed due to fixed-term exclusions.

"It is also concerning that some children are being repeatedly excluded, with almost 20% of those children having been excluded twice and 6% on five or more occasions.

"Clearly, managing challenging and disruptive behaviour in schools is essential. But very vulnerable children who are persistently disruptive often have problems at home which mean that they need extra help to manage their behaviour.

"Repeatedly excluding a child is ineffectual and does little to improve behaviour, and for this reason the 'tough discipline' approach currently being recommended by the Government is misguided."


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