Covid has seen a significant reduction in children being permanently excluded or suspended from school in Norfolk.

Figures for 2019/20, an academic year interrupted by the first national lockdown during the spring term, show 113 pupils were permanently excluded in Norfolk and 41 in Waveney.

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It is a big drop from the 209 children excluded from Norfolk classrooms the previous year, though while schools remained open for vulnerable and key worker children, closures due to Covid had a substantial effect.

The number of school suspensions was also lower at 5,274, down from 7,558 in 2018/19, Department for Education data shows.

There were 1,747 secondary school pupils who had one or more suspension during the year, along with 602 primary children and 39 youngsters at special schools.

Norfolk reached a peak of permanent exclusions in 2015/16 when there were a record 246, prompting Norfolk County Council to spend £480,000 in the last five years on inclusion support.

Eastern Daily Press: John Fisher, cabinet member for childrens services. Picture: Norfolk County CouncilJohn Fisher, cabinet member for childrens services. Picture: Norfolk County Council (Image: Archant)

John Fisher, cabinet member for children's services, said: “Schools have worked hard to avoid exclusion of children and young people across Norfolk and we continue to work with them to reduce exclusions and suspensions further, particularly given the disruption to learning over the last 18 months and the vulnerability of children being excluded from school."

But Labour lead for children and young people on the council, Mike Smith-Clare, said more needed to be done to reduce numbers further.

Eastern Daily Press: Mike Smith-ClareMike Smith-Clare (Image: Archant)

“While I welcome any drop in the number of school exclusions and suspensions; it’s still a concern that a number of children are still missing out on the education they need, particularly during an academic year blighted by Covid,” he said.

“Too many lives are being limited by a lack of provision, understanding and opportunity.”

Pupils excluded and suspended in 2019/20

Permanent exclusions - 11
Suspensions - 655

Permanent exclusions - 9
Suspensions - 591

Great Yarmouth
Permanent exclusions - 33
Suspensions - 952

King’s Lynn and West Norfolk
Permanent exclusions - 17
Suspensions - 853

Permanent exclusions - 24
Suspensions - 1,339

North Norfolk
Permanent exclusions - 7
Suspensions - 891

South Norfolk
Permanent exclusions - 13
Suspensions - 611

Lowestoft/East Suffolk
Permanent exclusions - 41
Suspensions - 1,709