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Spike in pupils excluded for ‘sexual misconduct’ at Essex schools

Exclusions recorded at Essex schools increased by 25% in 2016-17, latest DforE data reveals Picture: DOMINIC LIPINSKI/PA WIRE

Exclusions recorded at Essex schools increased by 25% in 2016-17, latest DforE data reveals Picture: DOMINIC LIPINSKI/PA WIRE

The number of children excluded from school for sexual misconduct in Essex shot up last year, latest education data reveals.

On average, 44 pupils were excluded for every school day in the 2016/17 academic year – at a rate of 4.06 per 100 students – according to new Department for Education figures.

In total, 8,367 exclusions were handed out in that year – an increase of 25% from 2012/13, when 6,670 were dished out.

Essex schools also issued at least 77 exclusions to children who had engaged in sexual misconduct in 2016/17 – that’s up 33% from the previous year, when 58 such exclusions were logged.

And although school population increased over the same period, the rate at which sexual misconduct-related exclusions increased was higher than that of population growth.

Essex County Council's education chief Ray Gooding Picture: ESSEX COUNTY COUNCILEssex County Council's education chief Ray Gooding Picture: ESSEX COUNTY COUNCIL

Graham White, from the National Union of Teachers, said this doesn’t necessarily mean the problem is getting worse.

“It probably happened before, but we didn’t record it to the same extent,” he added.

“Any kind of sexual misconduct is dreadful, and so are other similar reasons for exclusion, such as homophobic bullying and racism.

“These figures don’t mean it is getting worse, only now we say it is wrong and we are going to deal with it.”

Graham White of the National Union of Teachers Picture: ANDY ABBOTTGraham White of the National Union of Teachers Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Nationally, the number of exclusions for sexual misconduct increased in 2016-17 to 2,340 cases – up 9% from the previous year (2015/16), when 2,140 were recorded.

Essex’s education chief Ray Gooding said: “Essex County Council is working with primary, secondary and special schools to develop a countywide strategy to address the number of permanent and fixed term exclusions from Essex schools.

“Although our figures compare favourably with the national and regional picture we still regard this as a priority and are moving towards models of earlier intervention to support children and young people in school.

“There is no one reason why an increasing number of children and young people have been permanently excluded and a solution can only be developed in partnership.

“A starting point has been the development of an inclusion statement by headteachers in Essex and this will lead into further work in the new school year.”

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