This is how many Northumberland pupils were excluded last year for assaulting adults

New figures have revealed that dozens of pupils were excluded from Northumberland schools last year for assaulting adults.

Monday, 5th August 2019, 13:55 pm
Updated Monday, 5th August 2019, 15:43 pm
Northumberland's schools excluded students 92 times for assaulting adults in 2017-18

Data recently released by the Department for Education shows that Northumberland schools excluded students 92 times for assaulting adults in 2017-18, although this was a significant drop from 137 the previous year.

Of these exclusions, 84 were temporary and eight were permanent. The figures include assaults by children at state-funded primary, secondary and special schools in the area.

Teaching unions say government cuts to education funding have left schools less able to help children with challenging behaviour before it escalates. Physical assault can mean a pupil wounding, obstructing and jostling, or behaving violently towards an adult.

Northumberland schools excluded pupils 4,405 times in 2017-18 – 85 of these were permanent.

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Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said teachers often cite pupil behaviour as a reason why they walk away from the profession.

She added: “All schools should have a policy for dealing with violent incidents, and a pupil behaviour policy where teachers feel genuinely supported by school management.

“Cuts to school and local authority budgets, however, mean many support services such as behavioural specialists, who used to help in schools, have gone."

In toal, Northumberland schools excluded pupils 4,405 times in 2017-18. 85 of these were permanent. This was more than double the previous year, when they handed out 1,858.

The rise in exclusions in Northumberland reflects the trend across England, where the total rose by 7% to 419,000.

General secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton, said school leaders have a duty to keep their staff and pupils safe.

He added: “Schools are working hard to avoid having to exclude pupils, but the Government must do more to back them up, with an improved level of funding for education and investment in local services, which provide support to vulnerable families and children.”

Exclusions have become a hot topic after fears some schools are off-rolling, through which pupils are removed from their register without a permanent exclusion, possibly to improve average exam results.

A government review published earlier this year vowed to make schools more accountable for pupils they remove.

A DfE spokesperson said schools have a duty to protect pupils and staff, and added that the department will continue to back leaders in using permanent exclusion as a last resort.

They added: “There is no right number of exclusions, and although exclusion rates remain lower than 10 years ago, we have been clear that exclusion from school should not mean exclusion from education.

“Following the Timpson Review, we are consulting on how to make schools more accountable for the students they exclude, working with Ofsted to clamp down on off-rolling, and calling on local areas to explain or change trends in exclusions for certain groups of children.”

A spokesperson for Northumberland County Council said: "The county council does not take the decision to exclude a pupil; this is made by the headteacher and governing body of each individual school or academy. These decisions are made in line with each school or academy's behaviour policy and are usually notified to the county council after the exclusion.

We are, however, working closely with schools to help to better understand the current challenges and to reduce exclusions. The council has appointed three inclusion workers to support schools and in addition a scrutiny task and finish group has been examining exclusions throughout the last academic year.

We are clear that children should only be excluded either for fixed periods or permanently as a last resort, once all other options have been explored and considered.We are pleased to note that, in the academic year 2018-19, overall data for Northumberland exclusions shows a significant reduction of between 25% and 30% in both permanent and fixed term exclusions."