More than 1,000 Redbridge pupils excluded from schools

Redbridge pupils were suspended from school on nearly 1,500 occasions in one year, government figures show.

A review released by the Department for Education last week also shows 40 Redbridge youngsters were permanently excluded in the school year 2009/10.

Physical assault on another pupil was the reason for 360 temporary exclusions in the borough’s primary and secondary schools, while 25 were suspended for violence against an adult, 15 for racial abuse and 26 for sexual misconduct.

Bob Archer, president of the Redbridge branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “We think of Redbridge as a nice borough and it is a great place to teach, but there are real social problems, and some children will express that in their behaviour.

“Often, in secondary schools, temporary exclusion is the only sanction you can do that works, but with younger children in primary schools it does concern me because there are lots of other things you can do before that. The teachers must be driven to distraction.”

The overall picture in all Redbridge schools was better than average for outer London, with 6.7 per cent of pupils sent home for a fixed period, below the average of 7.6 per cent.

But there were 187 temporary exclusions in special schools in the borough, amounting to 40 per cent of all pupils in those schools, and the second worst in outer London.

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Mr Archer raised fears permanent expulsion may rise with the increase in academy schools, as appeals procedures are changed and schools may be more focused on academic results.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said: “With thousands of pupils being excluded for persistent disruption and violent or abusive behaviour we remain concerned that weak discipline remains a significant problem in too many of our schools and classrooms.

“Tackling poor behaviour and raising academic standards are key priorities for the coalition Government. We will back headteachers in excluding persistently disruptive pupils, which is why we are removing barriers which limit their authority.”

He added: “Through the Education Bill we are introducing further measures to strengthen teacher authority and support schools in maintaining good behaviour.”

Cllr Alan Weinberg, Redbridge Council cabinet member for education, stressed the figures were below average for outer London, and that the “vast majority” of borough schools have been rated “excellent” or “good” by inspectors Ofsted.

He added: “Redbridge schools work extremely hard to maintain high standards of behaviour among pupils and where possible avoid both temporary and permanent exclusions.

“We know that on occasions where a pupil’s actions may be serious that in the interests of the safety and wellbeing of the whole school community, it is felt that a fixed term exclusion is the best option.

“It is important to remember though that special schools in Redbridge deal with some of the most vulnerable pupils, including many pupils with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties.”