Large rise in Peterborough school exclusions for assaulting adults

Schools in Peterborough excluded more than 100 pupils for assaulting adults last year, figures reveal.

Monday, 5th August 2019, 1:35 pm
Education news

Teaching unions say government cuts to education funding have left schools less able to help children with challenging behaviour before it escalates.

Department for Education data shows that Peterborough’s schools excluded students 110 times for assaulting adults in 2017/18, a substantial rise from 71 the previous year.

Of these, 107 were temporary exclusions and three were permanent.

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Physical assault can mean a pupil wounding, obstructing and jostling, or behaving violently towards an adult.

The figures include assaults by children at state-funded primary, secondary and special schools in the area.

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.”

Peterborough schools excluded pupils 2,119 times in 2017/18 – 38 of these were permanent.

This was a 59 per cent increase on the previous year, when they handed out 1,329.

The rise in exclusions in Peterborough reflects the trend across England, where the total rose by seven per cent 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.”