Number of temporary school exclusions is increasing

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WIGAN schools issued more than 2,500 temporary exclusions to primary and secondary students in a single academic year, according to new figures.

Latest Government statistics reveal 2,530 temporary bans were given to schoolchildren in the borough in the academic year 2008/09.

This is compared to 2,418 permanent and temporary exclusions in the previous year 2007/08.

The figures have emerged just weeks after the government announced new measures to crack down on bad behaviour in schools by giving teachers clearer powers to with students who pose a risk to others.

Children’s charities condemned the use of exclusions to tackle problem behaviour.

Martin Narey, from Barnardo’s, said: “It is madness for us to take poorly-behaved, often troubled children and remove them from the one arena in which they are required to behave reasonably.

“Ejecting them from school and leaving them to their own devices in chaotic homes and risky neighbourhoods is not going to improve anything, it’s a costly and ineffective dead end.”

A council spokesman said: “In most cases, an exclusion is a matter for the individual school, following national guidelines, and such serious decisions are taken only as a last resort.

“Schools and local authorties are required to have strategies in place to intervene early to avoid exclusions where possible. The council acts to advise and support schools and assist in relocating affected pupils.”

Across the region, a total of 21,850 pupils in Greater Manchester were temporarily excluded in the academic year 2008/09, while a further 500 were excluded for good.

The Coalition Government has recently set out plans in a White Paper, called The Importance of Teaching, designed to improve discipline.

These would make it easier for teachers to restrain abusive pupils and allow teachers to use reasonable force to control a disruptive pupil.

The new rules also remove the requirement on teachers to give 24 hours’ notice for detention, prevent appeals panels from sending pupils back to schools where they have been excluded and make it easier for staff to search pupils.

Almost 1,500 pupils – some as young as four – were expelled from Wigan schools in the academic year 2007/08, some of them more than once.