Concern shown over school exclusion spike

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THE number of school days pupils missed after being suspended jumped dramatically during the last year, it has emerged.

Amber Rudd MP is promising to investigate after figures released by East Sussex County Council (ESCC) showed that between January and June 2010, there were 661 days lost because secondary school students were excluded in Hastings and St Leonards.

That number was more than double the number of days lost in the same period in 2009, which was 327, although overall the figures for the school year (September 2009 - June 2010) were down on the year before.

A spokesman for ESCC said: “It is difficult to draw any conclusions as levels of exclusion do fluctuate. However, there has been a continuing downward trend in exclusion rates over the past few years overall. We are continuing to work with schools to address levels of exclusion and look at new ways to support schools in responding to challenging behaviour.”

Ms Rudd vowed to get to the bottom of the statistics. She said: “I would like to find out how people think this happened so I will be writing to the council asking them to explain and speaking to the headteachers.

“On the one hand we need to make sure the support is there for children so we can try to keep them in school, but we hope teachers will be able to crack down more on discipline.”

A report by the children’s charity Barnado’s released in November said schools were overusing exclusions, which were “costly and ineffective” as they didn’t improve pupils’ behaviour.