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Number of pupils kicked out of class in Cornwall rises

Number of pupils kicked out of class in Cornwall rises

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 7:48am 6th August 2018. (Updated at 8:27am 6th August 2018)

Around 13 children are being kicked out of class in Cornwall every day.

Government figures show more than 2,500 were excluded last year, including 609 primary school pupils.

The total number rose 8% in 2016/2017 and has increased by 80% in the last five academic years.

Teacher Barry lives near Penzance and told Pirate FM the figures are worrying.

"You've got an excluded child and then what does that excluded child do? We have to not let that child just fall away into nowhere. They still have to have support to be able to come good in life.

"But on the flip side of that, you've got those not getting the education they deserve because of the disruption".

What do the figures show?

In the 2016-17 academic year, schools in Cornwall handed out at least 2,588 exclusions, according to data from the Department for Education.

Each excluded pupil received an average of 1.9 exclusions over the school year, and lost around four days of teaching apiece.

The number of exclusions represents an increase of 8% from the previous year when 2,386 exclusions were recorded, and an increase of 80% from the level it was at five years ago.

Although the school population has been increasing at the same time, the rate at which exclusions have increased is higher than the rate of population growth.

This means exclusions are now more prevalent relative to the number of school children than they were a year ago, increasing from 3.4 exclusions per 100 pupils to 3.6.

The majority of the exclusions in 2016-17 - 1,974 of them - were in secondary schools, with 609 in primary schools and 5 in special schools, which cater for pupils with special education needs or disabilities.

This equated to a rate of 7 exclusions per 100 pupils in the area's secondary schools.

The most common reason for a child to be excluded from a school in Cornwall was for persistent disruptive behaviour, which accounted for 22% of exclusions.

In England, exclusions numbered around 389,600 in 2016-17, up from 346,000 the previous year. This represents an increase from 4.4 exclusions per 100 pupils to 4.9.

What does the government say?

The revelation comes after a warning from MPs that parents and children are having to contend with a "scandal of ever-increasing exclusions" in a system that is like the "Wild West".

Ministers from the cross-party House of Commons education committee have this week published a highly critical report on the current exclusions system in England.

A rise in "zero-tolerance" behaviour policies may mean that "pupils are punished and ultimately excluded" for incidents that "could and should" have been better managed, the report stated.

The MPs also criticised a "lack of moral accountability" among many schools which have little incentive to keep on students that are seen as "difficult or challenging".

"Today, we face the scandal of ever-increasing numbers of children being excluded and being left abandoned to a forgotten part of our education system which too often fails to deliver good outcomes for these young people".

Committee chair Robert Halfon MP

Mr Halfon and his fellow committee members are calling for a "bill of rights" for pupils and their parents, which will include a commitment that schools do not rush to exclude pupils.

In a statement, the Department for Education said whilst exclusions have risen, there are still fewer than the peak a decade ago.

"Schools should only use permanent exclusions as a last resort but we do support teachers in taking proportionate and measured steps to ensure good behaviour in schools.

"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".

You can read the full data set here.

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