Suffolk's primary schools have worst suspension rate in country, figures show

File photo dated 5/11/2020 of pupils during a lesson in a classroom. Government efforts to "level up

The rate of suspensions in Suffolk primary schools has been called "shocking" - Credit: PA

Suffolk primary schools had the highest rate of suspension in the country last school year, government data shows.

Data released by the Department of Education shows that for every 50 pupils registered at the county's primary schools there were just over two suspensions in the school year 2019/20. This is the highest rate in the country.

In total, there were 101 permanent exclusions and 4,268 suspensions across both primary and secondary schools in the county.

This is slightly down on 2018/19 when there were 106 exclusions and 6,056 suspensions, but many pupils were forced to work from home for part of the year due to the pandemic.

In Essex there were 74 exclusions and 7,840 suspensions in 2019/20. In Norfolk the figures were 113 and 5,274.

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Bec Jasper, co-director of Parents and Carers Together, said: "We were shocked to see how badly Suffolk fared in these national exclusion statistics.

Anne Humphrys and Bec Jasper have set up PACT support group for parents and families of children wit

Bec Jasper, co-director of Parents and Carers Together - Credit: Lucy Taylor

"We knew that many families were being affected but not the scale of it or how we compared with others nationally. 

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"Sometimes simply putting in a reasonable adjustment or two can make a massive difference to a child feeling safe and supported and therefore happy to learn in the school environment.  It doesn't always need to cost a penny."

Karen Mills, executive of Suffolk Primary Headteachers' Association, said it was important to remember behind every statistic was a child.

Karen Mills, executive of Suffolk Primary Headteachers' Association

Karen Mills, executive of Suffolk Primary Headteachers' Association - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"It doesn't really matter in terms of the position of the table we're in," she said. "It's about what each one of those suspensions or exclusions actually means and I think Suffolk already had this as a priority."

Elizabeth Johnson, Labour council group's spokeswoman on education, said: “There is no single reason for this situation, but a number of factors have played their part. Inadequate mental health, SEND and early intervention provision. Cuts to family support services like children’s centres. A failure to tackle bad practice where it exists.

“It didn’t need to be like this, but the lives of thousands of children have been damaged by years of inaction.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said exclusions and suspensions were down to school leaders.

She added: "The council works with the whole system to encourage and challenge more inclusive approaches.

“Many of Suffolk’s schools support pupils' challenging behaviour very effectively but where additional support is needed to encourage greater inclusion, we work with the school to provide that.”

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