Sharp rise in the number of children kicked out of Northumberland schools

The number of children permanently excluded from Northumberland schools in 2021/22 was more than double compared to the previous year.
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Figures from Northumberland County Council showed that 94 children were kicked out of the county’s schools in the 2021/22 school year.

This compared to 44 in 2021, and 50 in 2019/20. In fact, the number of permanent exlusions had previously fallen every year since 2017/18.

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Of those children, one had an education, health and care plan (EHCP) which are provided for children with additional needs, while 56 received Special Educational Needs (SEN) support.

School exclusions.School exclusions.
School exclusions.

Fixed-term exclusions had also increased sharply – up from 2,144 in 2020/21 to 4,027 in 2021/22. Of those children, 372 held EHCPs and 1,100 received SEN support.

A report to cabinet members said that a “new trend” had emerged, with a specific increase for pupils in years 7 and 8. As a result, the council intends to create a “dynamic purchasing system”.

This will allow council officers to “contract with a variety of pre-qualified suppliers” to support the provision of alternative provision for children of school age.

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Northumberland does not have any alternative provision free schools and therefore relies on alternative providers to educate pupils excluded across the age range.

Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, portfolio holder for children’s services, said: “We were seeing that figure decrease, but due to Covid-related pressures that figure has risen. The team are working very hard on reasons and fixing that.

“The contract is worth £1.5m a year over a 10-year period, but that will differentiate. Spend will depend on how many children there are.”

The proposals were unanimously approved by the council’s cabinet.