THE NUMBER of children suspended and excluded from Durham schools has rocketed in the last 12 months.
Latest figures from the Government were released yesterday, which revealed that last year in Durham, 560 pupils were suspended from primary schools, a 16% increase on the year before.
And 100 secondary school pupils were permanently excluded during the same period, a 30% hike on the year before.
The rise comes against the backdrop of a regional and national decline in the number of pupils of all ages being excluded from school.
Overall in the North East the number of children suspended and excluded from schools was down to 13,440 from 15,470.
A spokesperson for Durham Council said: “Decisions on excluding pupils from school are taken by headteachers.
“The council provides support to help schools with children to manage behaviour. We have created a team who will work across the county and tackle any behavioural problems.
“They will work with those pupils to solve the problems, hopefully without the need for exclusions.”
Paul Carvin, head of raising achievement at Gateshead Council, said: “We are delighted with the release of this year’s exclusion figures, which show a marked decrease in the number of pupils being temporarily excluded at secondary school level in Gateshead.
“This drop is down to the collaborative approach of our education improvement partnership, which includes Gateshead Council, schools, colleges and training providers, working closely together to ensure that we engage all pupils in the learning process.”
John Collings, acting executive director of children’s services at Newcastle Council, said: “Newcastle schools, working closely with the City Council, are to be congratulated for the improvements we are seeing in pupil behaviour in our schools which is helping to reduce the numbers of children excluded.”
Nationally the number of times primary school pupils were suspended in 2007/08 fell by 5.3% this year to 43,290, and the number of times secondary school pupils were suspended fell by 10.8%, to 324,180.
Children’s Minister Dawn Primarolo said the figures indicated that behaviour in schools is getting better. She said: “It is time to put to bed the myth that behaviour is deteriorating with teachers powerless to act.”
The Department for Children, Schools and Families has not released regional information on the reasons why pupils were excluded. This will be made public at a later date.