More children are being expelled from Derbyshire's schools, shock figures reveal

The National Union of Teachers says 'more students are becoming disengaged from school'.
The National Union of Teachers says 'more students are becoming disengaged from school'.

More than 4,000 children were excluded from Derbyshire schools last year, shock statistics show.

Figures from the Department for Education reveal that 4,141 temporary suspensions were issued in 2015/16, up from 4,080 the previous year.

The number of permanent exclusions dished out rose from 90 in 2014/15 to 101 last year.

During 2015/16, the main reason for permanent exclusions from Derbyshire's state-funded primary, secondary and special schools was persistent disruptive behaviour, accounting for 42 of them, while 11 were handed out for physical assault against an adult.

Permanent exclusions were made seven times for physical assault against a pupil, seven times for verbal abuse and threatening behaviour against an adult, six times for drug and alcohol-related issues, three times for bullying and the remaining 21 were categorised as other matters.

Of the 101 permanent exclusions given to pupils,16 were given to youngsters still at primary school.

Persistent disruptive behaviour was also the most common reason for temporary suspensions from the county's state-funded primary, secondary and special schools last year, issued on 959 occasions.

There were 709 temporary suspensions for verbal abuse and threatening behaviour against an adult, 694 for physical assault against a pupil, 290 for physical assault against an adult, 149 for verbal abuse and threatening behaviour against an adult, 70 for racist abuse, 69 for damage, 66 for drug and alcohol-related issues, 30 for sexual misconduct, 29 for bullying, 15 for theft and the remaining 1,061 were categorised as other matters.

Across England, the number of permanent exclusions in state-funded primary, secondary and special schools increased from 5,795 in 2014/15 to 6,685 in 2015/16.

Commenting on the figures, Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: "This is a concerning trend and the Department for Education must give serious and honest consideration of what is driving these rising numbers of exclusions.

"NUT members tell us that as the curriculum gets narrower and children's experience of school is ever more focused on preparation for tests and exams, more students are becoming disengaged from school which in turn leads to problems with behaviour and mental health problems.

"These are the accountability drivers which are leading to this rise in figures; they must be addressed through a serious re-examination of the assessment and accountability regime and school funding.

"Cuts to school and local authority budgets have led to pastoral and mental health support services being scaled back or axed and some schools have had to reduce the number of teaching assistants employed.

"This clearly has an impact on the help schools can give to individual pupils as and when the need arises.

"Schools should be places where all children can thrive and enjoy their learning in a supportive, vibrant and caring environment where they are supported to achieve their best.

"Instead the system is creating exam factories in which increasingly children feel demoralised while cuts to funding leave some schools without adequate support to cope with serious behavioural or mental health issues."

A Derbyshire County Council spokesman said: "We recognise the impact that fixed term or permanent exclusion can have on any young person and share concerns about rising numbers.

"We're working hard with schools in Derbyshire and other partners to promote inclusion and ensure that schools have access to a range of resources and services to help keep young people in school."