Call for more teacher and pupil support after 3,600 exclusions from Rotherham schools

Call for more teacher and pupil support after 3,600 exclusions from Rotherham schools

By Michael Upton | 09/08/2019

Call for more teacher and pupil support after 3,600 exclusions from Rotherham schools

UNION officials have called for teachers to be given more support to tackle disruptive behaviour after new figures revealed Rotherham pupils were excluded more than 3,600 times last year.

Children in the borough missed 6,647 days of school due to fixed-period exclusions in the 2017/18 school year.

The number of fixed term and permanent exclusions increased from 3,575 to 3,636 between 2016/17 and 2017/18, while permanent exclusions alone rose by nearly a quarter from 30 to 38.

Overall, the number of children excluded at least once dropped from 1,288 to 1,251 and the number of days lost in total fell slightly from 6,673.

Department for Education statistics showed the most common reasons were persistent disruptive behaviour (1,353), verbal abuse/threatening behaviour against an adult (622) and physical assault against a pupil (500).

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates (pictured) said: “A minority of pupils cannot be allowed to disrupt the majority but those pupils engaged in the disruption also need to have the needs they clearly have assessed and addressed.

“The NASUWT’s evidence shows that disruptive behaviour is an increasing concern for teachers and is adding to the pressures and the workload they face.

“Teachers need to be supported by senior management to tackle pupil indiscipline.

“They also need access to specialist external support and early intervention strategies and the backing of parents who should recognise that their responsibility for their child’s behaviour does not end at the school gates.

“Teachers don’t want or need more powers, they want to be backed and supported in using the ones that they have and to have their professional judgement respected and acted upon when they indicate a pupil needs their behaviour addressed.”

Details of the ongoing challenge in the classrooms and corridors emerged just two weeks after we reported how more than 500 cases of teachers being abused were reported every year to Rotherham Borough Council, whose deputy leader, Cllr Gordon Watson, said were “actively encouraged” to report violence and aggressive incidents.

The DoE figures show the number of times students were suspended from classes for persistent disruptive behaviour rose by more than 200 in the year 2017/2018 school year and there was a slight rise in physical assaults on teachers, while there were falls in exclusions for the verbal abuse of staff, racial abuse, sexual misconduct and bullying.

The most common reasons for permanent exclusion were assaulting other students and staff, verbally abusing staff and being disruptive.

Secondary school children subject to fixed-term spells out of class missed average of five days and those attending primaries an average of four.

Ms Keates said the ability to exclude pupils acted as a deterrent to poor behaviour and protected the right students and staff should have to a safe school environment.

Cllr Watson said Rotherham was following a national trend of exclusions rising.

He added: “Locally,schools are working hard to avoid having to exclude pupils, but the Government must do more to back them up, with an improved level of funding for education and investment in local services which provide support to vulnerable families and children.

“It is often the most disadvantaged who are hit hardest as schools are under increasing financial pressure and are often left having to withdraw funding for vital pastoral support and specialist therapeutic care.

“We have been working with schools to reduce the number of pupils who are excluded as we believe every school day counts and schools should see exclusions as a last resort when all other avenues of dealing with pupil behaviour has been exhausted.

“It is clear from the current statistics that there is still more work to be done and we will be working with head teachers, families and most importantly young people who end up being excluded, to ensure everyone has the right support.”

Cllr Watson said the council had developed a new strategy with head teachers and other agencies to support vulnerable students at most risk of exclusion, which would be rolled out over the next year.

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