Commenting on Ofsted’s figures on secondary school pupil exclusion rates, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:
“While it is important that decisions to exclude pupils are carefully considered, it is vital that schools must continue to have the right to use fixed term exclusions in circumstances where the objective professional judgement of school leaders and teachers indicates that it is justified.
“The figures are an indication of why pupil behaviour is among the top three concerns of teachers alongside workload and pay.
“While it is important for Ofsted to monitor local and regional exclusion patterns, it is also critical that no action is taken to undermine the confidence of schools to use fixed-term exclusions where appropriate.
“It is important not to jump to any premature conclusions about practice in the local authorities named by Ofsted as having particularly high exclusion rates. Stakeholders should work together to examine the causes of these apparently high rates of exclusion and what, if any action, is appropriate.
“Barriers placed in the way of local authorities’ ability to monitor exclusions, introduced since May 2010, have been unhelpful, as have the cuts to specialist support services for young people and the dismantling of local partnerships focused on promoting good behaviour and attendance in all local schools.
“Teachers and headteachers are facing enormous challenges as a result of the cuts to essential services .All of these factors will have an impact on exclusion rates. The Government must face up to the fact that it has removed essential support from schools to assist with the management of pupil behaviour.
“There have been cases across the country where some schools have attempted to exclude pupils on the basis of concerns about the school’s ranking in performance tables, rather than the specific behaviour of individual pupils. Such practice is not acceptable and should be challenged when it is discovered. However, this is yet another consequence of the Government’s deregulation and fragmentation of the system which has removed important checks and balances.”