Education Law Solicitors

Everything you face, we face with you

Pupils five times more likely to be excluded from mainstream schools

The Department for Education has now published the updated statistics for the permanent and fixed period exclusions that were issued in England from 2017 – 2018. These statistics were published on 25 July 2019.

This data covers fixed period exclusions and permanent exclusions that were issued from 2017- 2018. Within the statistics it can be seen that the rate of permanent exclusions has remained stable across all school types, the rate of fixed period exclusions has increased overall but has fallen in special schools and finally, persistent disruptive behaviour remains the most common reason for exclusions but permanent exclusions of this nature have fallen for the first time in five years.

The data confirms that the increase in permanent exclusions seen in recent years has slowed, with the number across all state funded primary, secondary and special schools increasing slightly from 7,700 in 2016/17 to 7,900 in 2017/18. The resulting rate of permanent exclusions has remained stable at 0.10 per cent, which is equivalent to around 1 pupils per 1,000.

The number of fixed period exclusions across all state-funded primary, secondary and special schools has increased by 8 per cent from 381,900 in 2016/17 to 410,800 in 2017/18. The resulting rate of fixed period exclusions has increased from 4.76 per cent in 2016/17 to 5.08 per cent in 2017/18, which is equivalent to around 508 pupils per 10,000. A fixed period exclusion is issued when there has been a relatively minor breach of a schools policy. Such exclusions can restrict a child from attending school for a set period and this time frame can range from half a day to a number of days.

According to the data published, persistent disruptive behaviour remained the most common reason for both permanent and fixed-period exclusions overall – accounting for 2,700 (34 per cent) and 123,100 (30 per cent) respectively in 2017/18. The number of permanent exclusions for this reason decreased for the first time in five years.

In special schools alone, the most common reason for exclusion was physical assault against an adult – accounting for 40 per cent of permanent exclusions and 30 per cent of fixed period exclusions. As well as persistent disruptive behaviour, the number of permanent and fixed-period exclusions due to racist abuse, sexual misconduct and damage all saw decreases between 2016/17 and 2017/18 despite previous increases. Fixed period exclusions due to bullying and theft also decreased but this was not seen amongst permanent exclusions for this reason.

The data referred to is spread across one main text document. The Department has also prepared several tables and maps to display the statistics for both fixed term and permanent exclusions on a national and local basis.

Exclusion rates vary depending on geographic location. For instance, in 2017- 2018 areas such as Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Gloucestershire, Bedford and Buckinghamshire saw the highest rates of permanent exclusion. The lowest rates of permanent exclusion were found in areas such as Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Hampshire, Wiltshire. The lowest rates of permanent exclusion appear to be in the area generally referred to as the South East and that the higher concentrations of permanent exclusions do appear north of Birmingham. In the most recent statistics, this pattern remains. The North East, North West and West Midlands again saw the highest rate of exclusions with the South East being the region that saw the lowest.

Within the main document, it is highlighted that fixed period exclusions rates for pupils with special education needs (SEN) increased slightly, driven by those with SEN support and those in state-funded secondary schools. However, the proportion of exclusions accounted for by pupils with SEN has fallen – 45 per cent (down from 47 per cent) of all permanent exclusions and 43 per cent of all fixed period exclusions (down from 45).

Pupils with Special Educational Needs remain vulnerable and at risk of both types of exclusions. However, year after year there has been a slight decrease in the risk children and young people with Special Educational Needs face in terms of receiving a fixed term or permanent exclusion. In previous years, pupils identified with Special Educational Needs accounted for over half of all permanent exclusions and fixed period exclusions. Comparing that to this year’s data, there has been a further decrease and this is a positive result.

The statistics show that out of all pupils with Statements or EHCP’s at state funded secondary schools, 0.33% of them will face a permanent exclusion. In comparison, 0.07% of students with SSEN/EHCP’s in special schools receive permanent exclusions. As such, SEN pupils in a mainstream school appear to be nearly five times more likely to face a permanent exclusion. These figures suggest an importance of a child with SEN being placed in a much more specialist school environment as it can greatly reduce the risk of a child with SEN facing any type of exclusion as the environments are much more experienced to deal with a child’s bad behaviour that may result in a child’s exclusion.

In last year’s data, pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or an SSEN were six times more likely to receive either form of exclusion. Whilst obviously this does mean that pupils with an EHCP or SSEN are at heightened risk, that risk seems to be on the decline and this is again confirmed by this years figures.
When a pupil receives exclusion, it is likely to have a very significant and detrimental impact on their ability to engage in education and their future prospects. In particular, a permanent exclusion can cause difficulties with finding alternative education. In the immediate period following exclusion, a pupil can face serious difficulties receiving any education. Clearly, if a pupil has Special Educational Needs, these difficulties are only going to be compounded by their Special Educational Needs.

For more information on school exclusions and how to appeal a school exclusion, please click here.

If you are experiencing difficulties in relation to exclusion, Special Educational Needs or otherwise then please do not hesitate to contact our specialist education solicitors on 02922 408 700

in News