This is how many South Tyneside pupils were excluded last year for assaulting adults
New figures have revealed how many pupils were excluded from schools in South Tyneside for assaulting adults last year.
Recently-released Department for Education data shows that South Tyneside's schools excluded students 12 times for assaulting adults in 2017-18, although this was a significant drop from at least 25 the previous year. The figures include assaults by children at state-funded primary, secondary and special schools in the area.
Of these, 11 were temporary exclusions and one was permanent. Physical assault can mean a pupil wounding, obstructing and jostling, or behaving violently towards an adult.
Teaching unions say government cuts to education funding have left schools less able to help children with challenging behaviour before it escalates.
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."
South Tyneside schools excluded pupils a total of 604 times in 2017-18 – 37 of these were permanent. This was a 27% drop on the previous year, when they handed out 829.
The drop in exclusions in South Tyneside bucks 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.”
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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 from South Tyneside Council said:
“Overall South Tyneside has very few fixed period exclusions in secondary schools. Our exclusion rate is more than five times less than the national rate and significantly lower than the regional rate.
“This is due, in part, to the establishment of the Behaviour and Attendance Partnership. Since this was put into effect in 2009 we have seen a significant reduction in exclusions and it is pleasing to see this trend continuing this year.
“The Council regularly meets with schools to share good practice and effective strategies for reducing exclusions. These latest figures are testament to the effectiveness of this approach as South Tyneside is now the best performing authority across the whole of the region.
“However, we are not complacent and will continue our efforts to eradicate disruptive behaviour in the classroom so that every young person has the best start in life.”