School expulsions on increase

OVER 200 children were permanently expelled from schools in Essex last year, a report reveals.In total 203 children were excluded from the county's primary and secondary schools in 2004/2005, of which 50 were from east Essex, including the Colchester, Tendring and Maldon areas.

By Juliette Maxam

OVER 200 children were permanently expelled from schools in Essex last year, a report reveals.

In total 203 children were excluded from the county's primary and secondary schools in 2004/2005, of which 50 were from east Essex, including the Colchester, Tendring and Maldon areas.

There were 30 children excluded from secondary schools in east Essex, 16 pupils from primary schools and four from special schools. Most of the excluded pupils were boys.

A report for Essex County Council's scrutiny panel of the children, young people and schools policy development group said the reason most often given for permanent exclusion was “persistent disruptive behaviour”, followed by “physical assault against an adult”.

Sir Charles Lucas Arts College, Colchester, expelled the highest number of pupils in east Essex, with nine children told to leave the school.

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Principal Jude Hanner said “an extreme act of vandalism” partly contributed to Sir Charles' Lucas' statistics last year.

Two pupils were excluded after they joined in with a gang who smashed 47 windows at the school, which is in the heart of the Greenstead Estate.

She said: “In general permanent exclusions are never taken lightly. I would not hesitate to permanently exclude pupils who continually disrupt the learning of others, with open defiance to staff and swearing at staff, I will not tolerate that.”

She said last year the number of pupils permanently excluded was slightly higher than usual but was still a small proportion of the school's 1,200 roll.

The school was put in special measures last term – and Ofsted inspectors were critical of a small minority of pupils whose behaviour caused disruption.

Ms Hanner said the school had now implemented a new behaviour policy which should eliminate some of the defiant misbehaviour.

Clacton County High School, had the second highest number of permanent exclusions in east Essex, with seven pupils expelled.

Bert Foster, chairman of governors at the school, said: “Those pupils were excluded for disruptive behaviour in the classroom. That would be behaviour that we considered rude and abusive to teachers over a period of time. It would not normally just be one incident but would relate to a number of incidents.

“What I would say is that these incidents of permanent exclusions represent only a very small minority

of the total school population which is 1,700.

“We have a very clear behaviour policy and we expect our pupils to behave themselves.”

He said all of the seven permanently excluded would have been on temporary exclusions prior

to the permanent move.

A spokesman for Essex County Council said: “In the case of any child who is permanently excluded, we arrange for them to have temporary education using an integrated support unit.

“This may be in a community facility or in their home or at another school on a temporary basis,

until such time as another school agrees to take the child.”

Although the proportion of children excluded last year is slightly higher than the year before, the exclusion rate in Essex is still lower than average.

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