Rise in number of children being excluded from school

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The number of children permanently excluded from primary school has more than trebled in the past two years.

Figures published last week by the Department for Education showed 19 West Sussex pupils had been permanently excluded in 2014/15 compared to just five in 2012/13.

The number of permanent exclusions from primary schools has risen over the last three years, although they are in line with the national picture. This is however a very small proportion of the primary school population.

West Sussex County Council

Persistent disruptive behaviour and physically assaulting other children were the main reasons for the exclusions.

This was also the case nationwide, accounting for almost one third of all exclusions in state-funded primary, secondary and special schools.

During the same period, the number of permanent exclusions from secondary schools rose from 60 to 66.

This matched the national trend which saw the greatest rise in such exclusions happening in the country’s secondary schools.

When it came to the number of children who were excluded for a short period of time – anything from a few hours to a few days – the figure for primary schools rose from 477 in 2012/13 to 792 in 2014/15.

In secondary schools, the figure dropped from 2,439 to 2,394, with verbal abuse or threatening behaviour against a adult being one of the top reasons for the exclusion.

On average, children being excluded for shorter spells missed more than 3.5 days of school each.

While incidents of bullying, racist abuse and sexual misconduct had all dropped over the past two years in West Sussex, cases of physical assault against children and adults rose, as did drug and alcohol-related offences.

Nationally, physical assaults, racist abuse and drug-related incidents all rose, while bullying and sexual misconduct fell.

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council pointed out none of the drug and alcohol-related permanent exclusions took place in the county’s primary schools.

He added: “The number of permanent exclusions from primary schools has risen over the last three years, although they are in line with the national picture.

“This is however a very small proportion of the primary school population.”

Explaining how the local authority assisted schools when it came to dealing challenging behaviour among the students, he said: “We work closely with primary schools to encourage them to use the support available, such as advice on behaviour management, inclusion outreach services and Early Help, as alternatives to permanent exclusion, which is a last resort.

“Schools have robust policies in place to help pupils to maximise their educational opportunities.”

The spokesman said schools and the council worked side by side to help identify youngsters with behavioural issues as early as possible.

He said: “We also work with the early years sector to promote early identification of children requiring additional support and take a holistic approach to addressing presenting behaviours, which includes working with colleagues in Early Help to provide whole family support.”

Early Help Plans are used as a way of working with the parents of children with behavioural problems to help them set goals and create an action plan for the child to improve their situation.

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