South Tyneside has region’s lowest rate of secondary school exclusions

Coun Joan Atkinson
Coun Joan Atkinson

South Tyneside has the lowest rate of children being excluded from secondary school in the North East.

The news comes as inspection body Ofsted reveals eight councils across the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber have some of the highest exclusion rates in the country.

We are determined to give every young person in the borough the best start in life and will continue with our approach to drive down the number of school exclusions still further.

Coun Joan Atkinson

In the school year 2015-16, 193 pupils in South Tyneside served one or more fixed period exclusion - just 2.32 per cent of the total secondary school population in the borough.

The highest rate of exclusions in the North East came in Middlesbrough, where 984 pupils served at least one period of exclusion during the year, 12.75 per cent of the total.

A fixed-period exclusion means a pupil is barred from attending school for a set period of time, which can be anything from part of a school day up to a maximum of 45 days within a single academic year. This does not have to be continuous; pupils can be excluded for more than one fixed period.

In her annual report, Her Majesty’s Chief inspector Amanda Spielman stated she absolutely supports a school’s right to exclude pupils, but that it must only be used when necessary - when their behaviour is violent, threatening towards teachers or when it affects other pupils’ learning.

Ofsted’s Regional Director for the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber, Cathy Kirby, is this week writing to secondary headteachers to raise her concerns about their rates of fixed-period exclusions and calling on inspectors to look very carefully at schools’ use of exclusion when making judgements about leadership and management and pupils’ behaviour.

She said: “I fully appreciate variations between individual secondary schools and recognise that there may be valid reasons for schools to exclude pupils but schools should only ever use exclusions as a last resort.”

Coun Joan Atkinson, lead member for children, young people and families at South Tyneside Council, said: “We believe that disruptive behaviour in the classroom is completely unacceptable.

“Pupils have the right to learn and teachers have the right to teach. We also do a great deal of work in our schools to help young people learn to behave well so they can maximise their potential.

“Since the establishment of the Behaviour and Attendance Partnership in 2009 we have seen a significant reduction in exclusions and it is pleasing to see that 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 North East with fewer fixed period exclusions in our secondary schools than any other area.”