Shropshire schools excluded pupils nearly 300 times for assaulting adults last year

Schools in Shropshire excluded pupils a total of 296 times for assaulting adults last year.

Schools in Telford & Wrekin excluded children 153 times after they attacked teachers and other adults in 2017/18, temporarily 144 times and permanently nine times.

It means the number of students excluded for violence against adults actually fell last year, from at least 180 the previous year.

Telford & Wrekin Council said that permanent exclusions should only be used as a "last resort", and teaching unions warned that government cuts to education funding have left gaps in services and means schools are less able to help children with challenging behaviour before it escalates.

In Shropshire Council's area, children were excluded 143 times for assaulting adults, a rise from about 96 the previous year.

Of these, 135 were temporary exclusions and eight were permanent.

The figures from the Department for Education include assaults by children at state-funded primary, secondary and special schools, and classify assaults as pupils wounding, obstructing and jostling, or behaving violently towards an adult.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said teachers often cite pupil behaviour as a reason why they walk away from the profession.

She added: “All schools should have a policy for dealing with violent incidents, and a pupil behaviour policy where teachers feel genuinely supported by school management.

“Cuts to school and local authority budgets, however, mean many support services such as behavioural specialists, who used to help in schools, have gone."

Duty

Telford & Wrekin schools excluded pupils 3,046 times in total in 2017-18 – 21 of these were permanent.

This was a 19 per cent drop on the previous year, when they handed out 3,759.

The drop in exclusions bucks the trend across England, where the total rose by seven per cent to 419,000.

A Telford & Wrekin spokeswoman said: "The council has no control over the decisions to exclude made by individual schools or academies.

“These decisions rest solely with headteachers, in line with the behaviour policies individual to each school including academy trusts.

"All permanent exclusions must be reviewed by the school or academy’s governing body. If parents dispute the decision of the governing body they can ask for the decision to be reviewed by an independent review panel.

“Permanent exclusions should be used as a last resort once all other options have been considered.

“For the borough of Telford & Wrekin, overall data shows a reduction in fixed term exclusions compared to an increase nationally.

“Assault against an adult accounted for just 4.6 per cent of exclusions from Telford & Wrekin schools, which is lower than 6.7 per cent nationally and 7 per cent across the West Midlands as a whole.”

In Shropshire schools excluded pupils 1,936 times in 2017-18 and 62 of them were permanent.

This was an eight per cent increase on the previous year, when they handed out 1,788.

'Last resort'

Karen Bradshaw, Shropshire Council’s director of children’s services, said: “Excluding a pupil should only be used as a last

resort, and it is unfortunate that numbers have increased in Shropshire; this reflects the national trend seen over several years.

“Shropshire Council works with schools, families and other professionals to intervene and work on pupil behaviour at an early stage, and the majority of children are able to continue their education in a mainstream school. When a violent incident does occur, school management are supported to deal with the situation appropriately, and in the best interests of all concerned.”

General secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton, said school leaders have a duty to keep their staff and pupils safe.

He added: “Schools are working hard to avoid having to exclude pupils, but the Government must do more to back them up, with an improved level of funding for education and investment in local services, which provide support to vulnerable families and children.”

A government review published earlier this year vowed to make schools more accountable for pupils they remove.

A DfE spokesperson said schools have a duty to protect pupils and staff, and added that the department will continue to back leaders in using permanent exclusion as a last resort.

They added: “There is no right number of exclusions, and although exclusion rates remain lower than 10 years ago, we have been clear that exclusion from school should not mean exclusion from education.

“Following the Timpson Review, we are consulting on how to make schools more accountable for the students they exclude, working with Ofsted to clamp down on off-rolling, and calling on local areas to explain or change trends in exclusions for certain groups of children.”

Ofsted's Dan Owen HMI defines off-rolling as: "the practice of removing a pupil from the school roll without using a permanent exclusion, when the removal is primarily in the best interests of the school, rather than the the best interests of the pupil. This includes pressuring a parent to remove their child from the school roll."

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