By VICTORIA LEGGETT, Education correspondent
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
The number of times children were banned from Norfolk’s classrooms has surged once again to more than 5,000 – despite a decrease nationally.
Figures released by the department for education (DfE) yesterday show there were a total of 4,910 fixed-term exclusions across the county’s primary, secondary and special schools in the 2010/11 academic year.
There were also 130 permanent exclusions.
Both figures – which involve 2,520 individual pupils missing an average of 4.94 days – are up on the previous year with the total number increasing by 270 or 5.6pc.
It follows a similar increase between 2008/09 and 2009/10, when 2,490 pupils were affected.
But Norfolk’s neighbouring counties are continuing to experience significant decreases.
In Suffolk the total number of exclusions fell by 1,210 to 3,620 and in Cambridgeshire the number dropped by 330 to 2,200.
Those figures are more in keeping with the national trend which has also shown an overall drop in the number of exclusions.
Across England there were 5,080 permanent expulsions in 2010/11, a fall of 11.5pc, and 324,110 suspensions, a decrease of 2.2pc – although the figures for primary schools were up slightly.
Last night Colin Collis, Norfolk branch secretary of the NASUWT teaching union warned even these latest figures may not reveal the true extent of the problem locally and nationally.
“They will not give the whole picture because the pressure is on from Ofsted to reduce exclusions,” he said. “The way schools are getting round it is with managed moves. An arrangement will be brokered with another school to manipulate the exclusion figures.”
Verbal abuse against staff – accounting for 1,202 exclusions – and persistent disruptive behaviour – leading to 1,198 exclusions – were the two most common reasons for suspensions or permanent expulsions.
Assault on a fellow pupil accounted for 871 permanent or fixed-term exclusions – down from 920 the year before. Attacks on staff also decreased from 185 to 168.
Mr Collis said persistent disruptive behaviour was a constant thorn in the side of the county’s teachers but added: “I don’t want people to get the impression there is anarchy in Norfolk’s schools. Day to day there are lots of great lessons going on and teachers achieving great things with children. But there is still a significant issue with poor behaviour in schools and low-level disruption is a real problem.”
Chris Snudden, manager of educational standards and assessment at Norfolk County Council, said: “The decision to exclude a pupil is made by the school and its governing body. We continue to offer a wide range of services to schools across Norfolk, including advice, training and support to try to improve the behaviour of children and young people.”