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Fifty pupils a day suspended from school for assaulting an adult

Published 30/07/2015

Pupils aged five to 11 were suspended 11,420 times for physical assault against an adult in state-funded primary schools in 2013/14
Pupils aged five to 11 were suspended 11,420 times for physical assault against an adult in state-funded primary schools in 2013/14

Fifty pupils a day are suspended from school for assaulting an adult, new figures have revealed.

Pupils aged five to 11 were suspended 11,420 times for physical assault against an adult in state-funded primary schools in 2013/14 - up 25% from the previous year.

A further 7,550 pupils from secondary and special schools were suspended for the same reason, while 51,240 pupils aged five to 16 were suspended for assault against a pupil.

The figures for England from the Department for Education (DfE) also showed that permanent exclusions across primary, secondary and special schools increased slightly compared to 2012/13, despite a general decline since 2004/05.

Thousands more pupils are being sent home from school for verbal and racial abuse, sexual misconduct and persistent disruptive behaviour.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the figures reflected new powers for teachers that give them the "confidence" to exclude pupils.

Mr Gibb said: "Today's figures show a slight increase in the number of fixed period and permanent exclusions, although overall they are lower than in 2010. The new freedoms and greater clarity over exclusions given to head teachers is having a positive impact on behaviour."

In 2012, teachers were given given the go-ahead to search pupils, issue no-notice detentions and schools were put back in charge of exclusion appeals. The DfE are now appointing behaviour guru Tom Bennett to review the way teachers deal with disruptive children.

Racial abuse suspensions in primary schools increased by 16% compared to 2012/13 while suspensions for persistent disruptive behaviour are up 21% - accounting for a 20% rise in primary school fixed-term exclusions.

But bullying, sexual misconduct and drug and alcohol-related suspensions in primary schools have fallen.

Yet, when special and secondary schools are considered, drug and alcohol-related suspensions have increased by 9%.

Exclusions across all schools have increased by 7% - with drug and alcohol-related exclusions up by 14%.

Despite an average of 10 pupils being expelled every day for racial abuse across all schools, the total number has halved. Bullying and sexual misconduct expulsions are also both down by a quarter.

Exclusions for assaulting an adult in primary, secondary and special schools have increased by 12%, while t he rate of permanent exclusion has remained the same at six pupils per 10,000.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT said poor behaviour could be a result of government cuts to public services.

"It's a challenging time for families who use and need public services facing cuts. This sometimes manifests as behaviour problems at younger ages than we might expect. Heads have a duty to protect the education of all children in their school and exclusions are a necessary tool in that duty.

"Headteachers must be supported in maintaining discipline and getting young people the early support they need. The government is in the process of updating guidance, which should be clear and simple and help school leaders make informed and appropriate judgements. It is vital that school leaders know that they will be supported when they make difficult decisions."

He added: "Schools usually see exclusion as a last resort but it is sometimes necessary to maintain discipline and safety in schools, and to safeguard the education of all pupils. Overall, persistent disruptive behaviour is the most common reason for permanent exclusion, and this continues to represent a major focus for school leaders."

Tameside, Greater Manchester, and Dudley, near Wolverhampton, had the highest rates of exclusion - both 0.18%.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers' union in the UK, said the increase in pupils suspended due to assaulting adults was "extremely worrying".

"The increase in suspensions shows that, quite rightly, schools are not accepting violence against staff. However, there needs to be deeper analysis of why levels of violence are increasing.

"It is simply not good enough for ministers to pat themselves on the back and congratulate themselves on the new freedoms given to schools around exclusion."

She added: "There is no good news story here. Teachers and other staff are facing the trauma of serious disruption and violence.

"Children and young people are losing their place in mainstream schools and are being placed in a system where specialist staff and provision to meet their needs has been removed or reduced as a result of government cuts."

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: 'While, clearly, behaviour issues have to be addressed for the sake of the whole school community, there is no quick fix.

"Schools' ability to manage particularly difficult cases has been adversely affected by cuts to local authority budgets, in particular behaviour support services, and the fragmentation of the school system into academy and free schools.

"Narrowing the school curriculum, the reduction in creative subjects and the removal of some play times for primary pupils may all be factors affecting behaviour in schools.

"These issues need to be addressed to ensure that all pupils are given the opportunity to fulfil their potential."

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