School exclusions double in South Tyneside in six years

The number of pupils excluded from school in South Tyneside doubled in six years.
The number of pupils excluded from school in South Tyneside doubled in six years.

School exclusions in South Tyneside doubled just six years, according to new figures.

Secondary schools in South Tyneside handed out 762 exclusions to children in 2016/17 according to the latest Department for Education data.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird

This was a rate of nine exclusions for every 100 pupils, and a 99% increase from 2010-11 when there were just 383 exclusions, or four per 100 pupils.

Council bosses say they will not tolerate disruptive behaviour in classrooms and that more recent figures show a drop in the number of exclusions.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “The latest figures show a drop in the number of school exclusions in the current academic year. There have been 18 permanent exclusions since September 2018, which is less than one per cent of students across all schools in the borough and a 25 per cent drop on the same time last year.

The number of fixed-term exclusions is also falling.

“We will not tolerate disruptive behaviour in the classroom. The council regularly meets with schools to share good practice and effective strategies for reducing exclusions and we also help young people learn to behave well so they can maximise their potential.”

She added: “However, we are not complacent. We are determined to give every young person in the borough the best start in life and are committed to driving down the number of school exclusions still further.”

In South Tyneside, there were 41 permanent and 721 temporary, or fixed-term, exclusions in 2016-17.

Across the country, exclusions have increased by 12% since 2010, climbing from 276,350 to 309,275.

The figures come as police chiefs nationally have warned school exclusions could be contributing to a surge in knife crime.

Police commissioners from seven forces across England and Wales wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May, calling for urgent action to fix the “broken” school system.

The letter – which was co-signed by the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird – argues that exclusions put vulnerable children at risk of being sucked into violent crime.

Northumbria Police, is one of only three forces in England and Wales where knife crime has gone down in the last four years.

The letter to Mrs May also calls for off-rolling – where pupils are removed from the school roll without a formal exclusion – to be outlawed, and for more funding to improve early intervention for children at risk of exclusion.

A Department for Education spokesman said permanent exclusions should only ever be a last resort.

He said: “It is still vital that young people who are excluded from school are able to engage with high-quality teaching and education.”