Nearly 3,500 children suspended from schools in Wigan in just ONE YEAR
The number of exclusions and suspensions of children in schools is “too high” in Wigan, according to a concerned safeguarding official.
There have been 94 permanent exclusions and 3,489 suspensions in the 2021-2022 academic year, the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee was told.
The figures emerged as safeguarding officer Glynis Williams took councillors through the Annual Safeguarding Children’s Partnership Report at Wigan Town Hall, where she stated these statistics “were not good enough”.
“The number of both exclusions and suspensions are too high in Wigan,” she said.
“We are not as inclusive as we would like to be on this.”
She said the report highlighted key priorities of addressing neglect, initial points of contact for safeguarding, children’s mental health and domestic abuse to help reduce these figures.
One of the key aspects of the safeguarding partnership is the education system, and there has been less attendance since the Covid pandemic – meaning many students fly under the safeguarding radar, the report suggests.
However, there are emerging issues of sexual violence, knives, drugs and alcohol in schools that Coun Janice Sharratt described as “disturbing”.
She highlighted a national report that claimed “one in five girls doesn’t feel safe in school” and wanted to know what was being done to address this.
“We have concerns about this but it is difficult because we don’t always see what is happening in schools,” Ms Williams said, explaining the safeguarding teams position within schools.
“We did end up with a higher number of home educated children post-pandemic and we have got some now going into school where we felt it was appropriate.”
She explained that because of a lack of safeguarding officers’ presence physically in the school, alongside the fact that more pupils are being home educated, workers cannot always recognise warning signs for safeguarding.
One of the ways highlighted to address this is the Safeguarding Soldiers who are chosen to highlight ideas of being safe, helping people, having respect, protecting others and being kind, amongst an array of other terms in school, the committee heard.
This was trialled at Ince Primary School recently – something praised by councillors in the chamber.