FOI reveals increase in exclusions over anti-social behaviour in South Tyneside schools

A child using a laptop computer, as convincing children to turn off the TV or computer is more difficult than getting them to do their homework, go to bed or take a bath, a poll suggests./Peter Byrne/PA Wire/Press Association Images.
Picture by: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/Press Association Images.

Many sociologists will agree that a child’s mental development during school is the most important period of their lives.

It is essential therefore that behaviour is monitored and dealt with in the best possible way, and relevant sanctions are placed upon those who personally wish to deviate away from these educational values, potentially disrupting the learning of fellow students.

Peter Cutts, Head of Education for South Tyneside, said: “Our Behaviour and Attendance Partnership, which includes all schools and academies, has worked really hard on improving behaviour through sharing effective practice and developing common approaches.

“As a result, we have seen a general downward trend in fixed-term exclusions over recent years, indicating improved behaviour overall”.

Interested in how schools in South Tyneside educate and nurture pupils effectively, SR News sent out a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to South Tyneside Council to find out what the reasons for expulsions in schools were over the last five years and see if any pattern of a ‘general behaviour’ would emerge.

Figures show (chart below) that the amount of expulsions in schools increased for three consecutive years – from 2010 to 2013. It then dropped to its lowest rate in 2013/14, before soaring back up to its highest recorded total over the past five years in 2014/2015.

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However, the figures show that the number of assaults, stated as reasons for exclusions, on adults/pupils/sexual misconduct have gone down from 2012 to 2015, while the cases of exclusions due to verbal abuse/drugs and alcohol/violence/ possessing a weapon and assault on pupil went up in 2014/2015 compared to 2012/13 and 2013/14.

Rob Carr, Parliamentary Aide to Emma Lewell-Buck and MP for South Shields, said: “At an average of 1.67 per cent over five years, rates of fixed-period exclusions in South Shields, South Tyneside, were clearly below regional and national averages.

“Across the region, behaviour has been steadily improving over the last five years, thanks to work done by teachers and governors in schools.

“While statistics list shocking reasons for exclusion, such as drug and alcohol use, these are isolated cases and not the norm. In the face of Tory cuts to local authorities, schools must work to ensure options are provided for children and that exclusion isn’t the last opportunity for those children who end up there”.

If children feel as though they cannot tell their teachers or parents about their problems at school, they encouraged to seek the help of charities and organisations set up to respond positively to those reaching out.

Anna Edwards, spokeswoman for NSPCC, said: “Our aim here is to ensure that every child grows up to be healthy and to thrive, that’s why we offer the programmes we do so that they are fit for work as they mature.

“We listen to children and young people, respect their views and respond directly to them.

“Children should be encouraged and enabled to fulfil their potential. It saddens me that children who maybe aren’t being brought up in the best possible way are behaving the way they are in education.”

There have, however, been cases where individuals have been pulled out of the education system by their parents in an attempt to reignite their passion for learning and to be home-schooled, as no matter how hard a pupil tries, sometimes the school system isn’t for them.

Parent Karen Clachar decided to home-school her son and has started to see major signs of improvement.

She said: “I believe the education system needs to be more varied to allow the potential of each student to progress.

“The system as a whole needs to look into the emotional and individual needs of children rather than just their results and behavioural patterns.

“To expect a group of 25-30 children to do the same work and behave the same way is surely a waste of time that could be spent developing interests and desires that will produce confident, well-adjusted children.

“It concerns me that this is far from the case.

“I have chosen to remove one of my children from the education system and educate him myself, giving him the one-to-one time he needs to allow natural understanding of education.

“He is now a different child, growing in confidence, happy and relaxed, this is a massive step.”

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