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Suffolk: How many violent students have been excluded from county’s schools? Figures released days after fatal stabbing of Ann Maguire at Corpus Christi Catholic School in Leeds

PUBLISHED: 08:31 30 April 2014

Police officers at Corpus Christi School in Leeds, where Ann Maquire was stabbed to death by a pupil. Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Police officers at Corpus Christi School in Leeds, where Ann Maquire was stabbed to death by a pupil. Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Nearly 900 pupils were excluded from schools in Suffolk over a four year period for assaulting an adult on campus.

An additional 2,922 were excluded for assaulting a fellow pupil between 2008-09 and 2011-12, according to figures released by the Department for Education.

The figures come days after a teacher was stabbed to death in a Leeds school, renewing the debate about school safety.

Ann Maguire, a 61-year-old teacher of Spanish and religious education at Corpus Christi Catholic School, was repeatedly stabbed in a full classroom by a schoolboy on Monday.

Altogether 863 pupils received either fixed term or permanent exclusions as a result of a physical assault on an adult in Suffolk during the time referred to by the figures.

Yesterday the secretary of Suffolk NUT, Graham White, said in his experience the number of violent incidents in schools in the county was getting “slightly worse, but not substantially worse.”

In 2010, ministers handed new powers to head teachers to search pupils for weapons, drugs or stolen goods in a government drive to improve school discipline and crack down on violence. However Mr White shied away from that approach.

“I think there is enough overall being done to protect teachers but clearly we need to learn from these instances,” he said. “Staff need to be protected and so do pupils.

“I certainly wouldn’t want to go down the route of searching every pupil going into schools; I think that’s a bit over the top.”

Mr White added that some schools felt pressured not to exclude pupils in case it affected their Ofsted rating.

“Schools are certainly being pressured to retain pupils, because if you have high levels of exclusions it generally counts against you in Ofsted reports.

“It tends to be primary schools with pupils with particular needs which are impacting on other pupils and the authority is pressuring them to keep a pupil when the staff think it’s not right for them to be there.”

A spokeswoman for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers warned that some pupils saw their parents “ranting and threatening” teachers and copied them.

She said: “Teachers’ perception is that the behaviour of pupils is getting worse. But it reflects what is going on in society as a whole. There is a very different atmosphere.

“Some of that is good, children are far more engaged and confident than they used to be. But it does mean that there are parents who go in and rant and threaten the teachers. And if children see their parents and carers do that, they can replicate it.

“Where that happens it is deeply, deeply worrying.”

Suffolk County Council said: “Head teachers, and their respective governing bodies, are responsible for discipline in their schools. They develop their own behaviour policies and ultimately, decide whether or not a pupil is excluded.”

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Oliver Sheppard, 28, of Park Road in Clacton, was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on January 16 after pleading guilty there on January 8.

One man was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.

Concerns had been raised about safety in the area

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