Hundreds of under-fives excluded for disruptive behaviour

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Nearly 1,000 nursery and reception children were temporarily excluded from school last year.

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A total of 970 children aged four and under received fixed period exclusions during 2013/14

According to the latest Department for Education (DfE) figures on Permanent and Fixed Period Exclusions in England, 40 children in nursery and 930 in reception received one or more fixed period exclusion during the 2013 to 2014 school year.

During the same period, a total of 70 fixed period exclusions were issued for nursery children and 1,970 for those in reception.

Broken down by age, 970 children aged four and under received fixed period exclusions and 1,940 five-year-olds.

A fixed period exclusion is for a set number of days. The maximum amount of time any children can be excluded from school for a fixed term is 45 school days in an academic year.

A total of 30 children aged four and under were permanently excluded from school in 2013/14.

Overall, the figures reveal a slight increase on 2012/13 in the number of children receiving fixed and permanent exclusions across all state-funded primary and secondary schools in England, as well as special schools.

They also show that boys are more likely to be excluded than girls. According to the statistics, boys are over three times more likely to be permanently excluded, and almost three times more likely to receive a fixed period exclusion, than girls.

Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) with and without statements have the highest rate of permanent exclusion. Pupils eligible for free school meals are also more likely to be excluded.

Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of Ambitious about Autism, said,It is shocking that so many children with SEN are missing out on education. Our Ruled Out campaign research found that four in 10 children with autism in England were illegally excluded from school during a 12-month period.  Despite the gains made by the Ruled Out campaign, it is clear that more needs to be done to support those with pupils with SEN to stay in school.

‘We know schools that can and do support children with autism to learn, thrive and achieve. All schools need to build their capacity to support children with autism and not use exclusions as a way of managing their special needs.’

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said, ‘While, clearly, behaviour issues have to be addressed for the sake of the whole school community, there is no quick fix.

‘Schools’ ability to manage particularly difficult cases has been adversely affected by cuts to local authority budgets, and the fragmentation of the school system into academy and free schools. 

‘Narrowing the school curriculum, the reduction in creative subjects and the removal of some play times for primary pupils may all be factors affecting behaviour in schools. These issues need to be addressed to ensure that all pupils are given the opportunity to fulfil their potential.’

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said, ‘The latest fixed-term and permanent pupil exclusion figures make for worrying reading. Permanent exclusions are a tragedy for those children and their families and we must find a way to prevent so many from facing exclusion from school.

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