Sharp rise in school suspensions and exclusions

Wednesday, 13 March 2024 23:03

By Martyn Smith, Local Democracy Reporter

The number of pupils excluded from Dudley schools has risen sharply since the start of the current academic year.

At the end of the first term, from September to December 2023, there were 37 confirmed permanent exclusions at borough schools, up from 23 the previous year.

The figures for exclusions not withdrawn after intervention or overturned by school governors or on appeal from the last two full academic years also show Dudley is above the national average.

Coun Ruth Buttery, Dudley cabinet member for children’s services, said: “The local authority recognises the issues some schools are facing and the figures provided include both state maintained and academy schools across the borough.

“We have increased staffing capacity in our inclusion team to support schools and their leaders in tackling poor behaviour and other reasons for exclusions and suspensions.”

Catherine Driscoll, Dudley’s director of children’s services, told the council’s Children’s Services Select Committee: “The Dudley Pathway strategy due to be launched September 2024 will ensure school interventions are consistently identified and implemented for children and young people at risk of repeat suspensions and exclusion.”

Suspensions from schools are also higher than the previous academic year, in the first term there were 1,430 suspensions out of around 45,000 pupils in the borough.

A quarter of suspensions were the result of threats or verbal abuse of adults while 16 percent were the result of an assault on another pupil.

Year 9 pupils were the most commonly suspended with 25 per cent of the total coming from that group, an increase of 150 on the same period last year.

The committee was told current year 9s were in year 5 when schools went into lockdown during the Covid pandemic and may have missed out on a proper transition to secondary school.

Coun Buttery said: “We recognise there has been a significant change in some behaviours, particularly post-covid, and as part of our new alternative provision strategy will seek to work with schools in preventing suspensions and exclusions. 

“This will include ensuring early support, targeted intervention and specialist support for our most vulnerable learners.”

The latest school report in Dudley also raises concerns about the number of children being educated at home.

In 2019/20, 430 children were registered as being home taught, this rose to 555 in the following year during the lockdown.

Since the end of covid restrictions the numbers have continued to go up with 725 in 2022/23 and 578 already registered this year with more expected.

OFSTED recommend one full-time council officer to deliver statutory support for every 100 children in home education.

The last figures for Dudley show in 2021/22 there were the equivalent of two officers in this role when 665 children were being taught at home.

In January 2024 there were 369 children believed to be missing education completely, mostly due to new arrivals from other local authority areas or other countries.


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