The number of permanent exclusions from English schools is on the rise, with many school heads blaming cuts to mental health and behaviour programmes.
According to DfE figures cited by the BBC, there has been a 15% increase in the number of students expelled from state schools between 2015/16 to 2016/17, rising to 7,720 from 6,685. This rise does not take into account growing pupil numbers.
Yet, the expulsion rate still remains low, with just 0.1% of students affected – up from 0.08% in the 2015/16 school year.
The government commented that schools should use permanent expulsion only as a last resort, and added that it has helped teachers to take adequate steps to promote good behaviour at school.
Still, the figures shared by the DfE mean that 40 pupils are getting expelled from school every day.
Children from poor backgrounds, and those receiving school meals, are four times more likely to be permanently excluded from school. Meanwhile, pupils with special educational needs make up around half of all expulsions.
School cuts to blame
Geoff Barton, leader of the Association of School and College Leaders union, blamed the rise in pupil exclusions on the school funding crisis and cuts to children’s services.
He said: “Schools have had to cut back on the individual support they are able to give students, making it more difficult to provide early intervention and prevent behavioural problems from escalating.
“Schools only exclude pupils as a last resort and when all other avenues have been exhausted. The government needs to provide the funding that is necessary to provide support at an early age.”
Exclusions occur most in secondary schools
The data showed that 83% of permanent exclusions in 2016/17 took place in secondary schools, equating to a rate of around 20 pupils per 10,000.
Continuous disruptive behaviour was the most common reason for permanent exclusions, while also being the category that has experienced the most growth.
There is also a rise in fixed-term exclusions, up from 339,360 in 2015/16 to 381,865 the following year.
Schools standards minister Nick Gibb stressed the government’s aim to ensure every child benefits from a world-class education.
He added: “Whilst we know there has been an increase in exclusions there are still fewer than the peak ten years ago.
“We recognise some groups of pupils are more likely to be excluded than others which is why we launched an externally-led review to look at how schools are using exclusions and why certain groups are disproportionately affected.”
Do you agree with Geoff Barton that the increase in permanent exclusions is a consequence of school funding cuts?