Number of children permanently excluded from Nottingham schools more than doubles


The number of children permanently excluded from Nottingham city schools has more than doubled in four years, figures show.

More than one child in every 500 is permanently excluded from school – considerably above the national and regional averages.

Nottingham City Council will meet to discuss the increase this week, after figures showed the problem has developed in the space of four years and the rate of permanent exclusions in the current academic year showed ‘no significant change’.

Reasons given the exclusions range from abuse and assaults on staff to sexual incidents and drugs.

Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Education at the council, said: “Good discipline is essential for schools to create the right learning environment and we understand that permanent exclusions are an important sanction. However, we would expect them to be used only as a last resort and when all other options have been exhausted.

“Currently the numbers are too high and this level is financially unsustainable – money is being taken away from other pupils every time one of their peers is excluded.”

A report by the authority’s Head of Access and Inclusion, Nick Lee, says the rise is a “matter of concern” which has hit budgets because providing education to children outside of mainstream schools is more expensive than traditional schooling.

Statistics from the council show there are a wide range of reasons why Nottingham children are being excluded from school. Figures for the last five years, covering all exclusions from city secondary schools – fixed term and permanent – show 41 per cent, or 3,904, were for “persistent disruptive behaviour”.

Nottingham city’s permanent exclusion rate per 100 pupils, in blue, has soared over the last four years. (Graphic: Nottingham City Council)

Physical assault on other pupils was the second most common reason on 19 per cent, and verbally abusing an adult was third at 18 per cent.

The figures also show, drugs, alcohol, sexual incidents, racism, violence against adults  combined accounted for around five per cent of all exclusions.

More than 1,000 permanent or fixed-term exclusions have also been issued at Nottingham primary schools over the last five years. The common reason was physical assault on an adult, accounting for 32 per cent or 509 incidents. Persistent disruptive behaviour was second at 22 per cent, and physical assault on pupils was third at 20 per cent.

Although incidents are much rarer, the statistics show alcohol, drugs, racism and sexual incidents are also a factor in primary schools, accounting for two per cent of primary school exclusions.

Mr Lee told Notts TV: “Fundamentally we know that the outcomes for those young people is worse than those that stay in school – it limits their opportunities.

“If you look at life chances generally the proportion of young people who go on to have issues with the police is higher after exclusion.”

He added the council is already running a pilot project for secondary schools who
committed to a ‘zero exclusion policy’.

Five of the 16 secondary schools in the city took part and used the extra money on in-house schemes such as early intervention for pupils showing poor behaviour, or spent it on specialist units in school for children at risk of being excluded.

So far none of the pilot schools have permanently excluded any children, in academic year 2016/17 and to date in 2017/18.

“There are ways schools can manage it internally,” Mr Lee added.

“We’ve worked with some schools to give additional funding to them, and they have developed their own strategies. There are ways of doing it [making improvements] without excluding children.”

Nottingham City Council’s Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee will discuss the issue further on Tuesday (December 19), and a further report on the trend is expected in February.

Councillor Webster added: “The issue has been raised with the Regional Schools Commissioner and we expect him to work with academies in Nottingham to reduce the number of permanent exclusions.

“Although academies are outside the Council’s direct remit, we urge them to work together and with the Council to reduce the numbers of children being excluded.

“Councils do not have sufficient powers to deal effectively with the issue and we call on Government to strengthen the role of local authorities in this area. The increase in formal and informal exclusion of children from mainstream education must be recognised and tackled.

“We endeavour to support excluded pupils to make a fresh start in another school. Some pupils will move to a Pupil Referral Unit or an alternative education provider where they can be taught by specialist teachers in smaller groups.

“However, there is a high cost involved with this and at a time when city schools and the council are having their budgets reduced, permanent exclusions are taking vital resources away from all pupils in Nottingham.”

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