School suspensions hit record high of 247,400 last autumn term, study says

3,051 young people were permanently excluded over the 2021/22 academic year. Credit: PA

There was a record high of a quarter of a million suspensions from school in last year’s autumn term, affecting 135,000 pupils, according to new data.

An analysis of Department for Education data by the Centre for Social Justice found that 3,051 young people were permanently excluded over the 2021/22 academic year, with rates nearly back to pre-pandemic heights.

The think tank found that 247,400 suspensions were recorded last autumn, with more than one million days lost to suspensions over the course of the academic year.

The figures were described as “staggering”.

The figures were described as 'staggering'. Credit: PA

Compiled for Integrated, a coalition of groups working to reduce school exclusions, the Centre for Social Justice study found that outcomes for those permanently excluded was “incredibly poor”.

It found that 4.6% of pupils who finished Key Stage 4 after being removed to a state-funded alternative provision school achieved a grade four or higher in maths and English GCSE.

The report also noted that pupils from some ethnic groups, including Roma, Irish Traveller and black Caribbean, face “disproportionate rates” of school exclusion.

The study found that pupils from a Roma or gypsy background had the highest rate of suspensions, with more than one in four receiving a suspension at some stage in the 2021/22 year.

The think tank said that in 2021/22 pupils eligible for free school meals were five times more likely to be permanently excluded compared with fellow pupils.

Tory MP Andy Carter, who chairs the all-party parliamentary groups on school exclusion, said: “Exclusions have increased since the pandemic lull and suspensions have hit a record high.”

The Warrington South MP said: “As the devastating impact of the pandemic continues to blight our children’s lives, ensuring every child is able to access a high-quality education that meets their educational, social and emotional needs should be the mission of every one of us.”

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said: “These staggering figures show that the Conservative Government has taken its eye off the ball after the pandemic, and it should come as no surprise given that Rishi Sunak as chancellor said that the Government had ‘maxed out’ on children’s recovery programmes.

“The Prime Minister’s answer to the growing problems of poor behaviour, the crumbling concrete scandal, the lack of special educational needs provision and historic levels of persistent absence is an ill-thought out reform of A-levels which neither schools, families nor young people want.”

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