Number of pupils being expelled from Wakefield schools rises for fourth year in a row

The number of children being expelled from schools in the Wakefield district has risen again.

Friday, 14th February 2020, 3:14 pm
Updated Friday, 14th February 2020, 3:16 pm

A total of 96 pupils were permanently excluded between September 2018 and July 2019, up from 83 the previous year. It's the fourth year in a row there's been an increase.

Pressure on schools to improve exam results has been blamed for the trend.

A review of the education system last year suggested schools be held accountable for the future performance of children they've expelled. Although many in the industry hope that will trigger a fall in expulsion rates, the recommendation has yet to be implemented by the government.

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All but three of the 96 expulsions were from secondary schools in the district.

Temporary exclusions are also up, with more than 2,000 students told to stay away from a school for a fixed period of time.

While boys are still more likely to be excluded than girls, there's been a sharp rise in the number of Year 8 and Year 10 girls being told to stay at home.

Former head teacher Andy Lancashire, now Wakefield Council's service director for education and inclusion, said that the district's figures were above the national and regional average.

Speaking at a scrutiny committee on Wednesday he said: "There is a recognition that our exclusion rates are too high.

"I think schools and academies recognise that.

"We're now in the business of trying to work out a system which will allow us over time to reduce those percentages.

He added: "It's quite a complex piece of work. There's not going to be a silver bullet, but I think there's sufficient support from school leaders at trying to make this work over the next two to three years."

Committee chair, Councillor David Jones said that almost 13,000 school days had been lost to temporary exclusions during the year.

He suggested the rise was likely to have a negative impact on outcomes for children as they progress through secondary school.

Mr Lancashire replied: "I think that's a good point.

"The national statistics would back up the fact that if you're not in school for a period of time it will affect your progress."

Outwood Academy Hemsworth expelled 13 pupils during the 2018/19 year, more than any other local secondary school. Nine of those were for one-off incidents.

Airedale Academy expelled 10, while Carleton High School in Pontefract and Kettlethorpe High in Crigglestone expelled seven each.

Persistent disruptive behaviour, verbal abuse of a staff member and physical attacks on other pupils remained the most common reasons for exclusion.

Local Democracy Reporting Service