School exclusions up by 50 per cent in York

The number of children excluded from school has jumped more than 50 per cent in the past five years in York.

And the number of exclusions handed out at primary schools has almost doubled.

But John Tomsett, head teacher at Huntington School, said that in the right circumstances excluding students can help maintain high standards of behaviour at school and be the right thing for the majority of other pupils.

He said:

  • I think it is important to maintain high standards of behaviour in our schools.

    There are times as head teacher when you have to put the needs of the vast majority of perfectly behaved students above the situation of the poorly behaved individual who you exclude from school.

    A small number of students behave in a way that means they lose the right to be educated with the rest of our students who want to learn and behave in a civilised manner.

    The right of head teachers to exclude students is an important one which, when used judiciously, is highly effective in maintaining order in our classrooms.

More than 900

Huntington School head teacher John Tomsett. Photograph: YouTube
Government research reveals there were 580 temporary exclusions from secondary schools and primary schools in the city in 2014.

But the number has risen every year – to 915 last year.

City of York Council has put the increase down to a higher number of students in schools.

Mark Ellis, head of school services at the council, said:

  • Across the UK, data from the Department for Education (DfE) shows that numbers of students in secondary school are rising and that numbers of exclusions are also rising.

    York is in line with this national trend and we work with schools to ensure that all sanctions – including exclusion – are used proportionately, fairly and in line with DfE guidance.

    As ever, research shows that children and young people do best at school when they attend consistently.

Up to five days

The number of fixed term exclusions issued at primary school increased from 110 in 2014 to 214 in 2018.

A council spokesman pointed out that the temporary exclusions are usually for five days or fewer and that pupils are given work to do at home.

But the number of permanent exclusions has also risen slightly.

There were five permanent exclusions in York last year – issued for theft, racist behaviour, threatening an adult or physically assaulting another student. In 2014, no permanent exclusions were registered.

York still has the lowest number of exclusions of any local authority in Yorkshire and the Humber. And the number of exclusions for bullying has fallen from 13 to four.