The proportion of pupils permanently excluded from school has risen, government data shows.
Statistics released by the Department for Education show that 0.08 per cent of pupils in all schools were excluded in 2015-16, compared to 0.07 per cent in 2014-15.
It is the second year that has seen a rise in the rate of permanent exclusions following several years of decreases.
The overall increase across all school types is driven by a continuing rise in exclusions from secondary schools – from 0.15 per cent in 2014-15 to 0.17 per cent in 2015-16 – and comes despite a drop in the proportion of pupils that special schools exclude.
Fixed-period exclusions are also up, and the data released this morning also shows that pupils on free school meals were much more likely to be excluded than their wealthier peers.
Special needs pupils accounted for almost half of all types of exclusions, continuing trends seen in previous years.
It comes after the Institute for Public Policy Research released findings showing at least half of all permanently excluded pupils had a mental illness, with the actual figure “more likely to be 100 per cent” of those excluded.
Even in Pupil Referral Units, the rate of exclusions has risen, despite these being schools where pupils are often sent after being excluded from mainstream schooling. The rate of permanent exclusion from PRUs rose from 0.13 per cent in 2014-15 to 0.14 in 2015-16.
Persistent disruptive behaviour accounted for 34.6 per cent of all permanent exclusions, which is a rise from 32.8 per cent the previous year.
History of exclusion figures
Until recently, the rate of permanent exclusions had been decreasing up until 2014. It fell from 0.12 per cent of pupils in 2006-07, to 0.06 per cent of pupils in 2013-14.
But it then rose for the first time two years ago, from 0.06 per cent of pupils to 0.07 per cent, in 2014-15.
The most recent figures continue that trend, from 0.07 per cent to 0.08 per cent. This is equivalent to 30 pupils two years ago being permanently excluded every day rising to 35 pupils every day last year.
The rate for fixed-period exclusions has risen across all schools, from 3.88 per cent to 4.29 per cent of pupil enrolments.
Primary and secondary schools saw their rates for fixed-period exclusions rise – but again special needs schools managed to reverse that trend.
In primary schools the rate increased from 1.10 per cent to 1.21 per cent, and in secondary schools from 7.51 per cent to 8.46 per cent. But special needs schools saw their fixed-period exclusion rate drop from 13.54 per cent to 12.53 per cent.
Types of pupils
Boys were about three times more likely to be excluded than girls, the data showed, repeating the previous year’s trend.
Pupils in year 9 and above were most likely to be excluded, with older year groups making up more than half of all exclusions.
Poorer pupils who are claiming or eligible for free school meals were four times more likely to be excluded than their wealthier peers.
Pupils of Irish traveller, Gypsy and Roma heritage had the highest rates of exclusion of any ethnic group, followed by Black Caribbean pupils, who were three times more likely to be excluded than any other group.
These exclusion rates by pupil characteristics are identical to the previous year.
The regions with the highest rates of permanent exclusion were the west Midlands, at 0.11 per cent, and the north-west, at 0.09 per cent. The regions with the lowest rates are the east of England and the south-east, both at 0.05 per cent.
For fixed-period exclusions, Yorkshire and the Humber was the region with the highest rate, at 6.19 per cent. Meanwhile, the lowest rate was 3.17 per cent, in Outer London.
A spokesperson for the DfE said exclusion rules were “clear” that exclusion powers should only be used “in particular circumstances” and decisions to exclude should be lawful, reasonable and fair.
Permanent exclusion “should only be used as a last resort, in response to a serious breach, or persistent breaches, of the school’s behaviour policy.”